Patriots’ Day and 9/11 Remembered

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Patriots’ Day was recognized in Crescenta Valley beginning on Friday, Sept. 9 with a motorcade that drove past local schools and fire and law enforcement stations. The motorcade honored those emergency responders in the area.

As the fire engines and law enforcement patrol vehicles in the motorcade drove by them students and community members stood on sidewalks holding flags and thanking those emergency responders for their support and service.

Patriots’ Day is officially on Sept. 11; however, the motorcade was moved to the Friday prior so school students could participate.

Several students from the The Center for Children at La Crescenta Presbyterian Church joined veterans at the American Legion Post 288 on La Crescenta Avenue to view the motorcade.

“We are here to say thank you,” said 4-year-old Sofia Green who was dressed in red, white and blue.

Three-year-old Sadie Russell, also dressed in patriotic colors, joined her classmate.

“We are saying thank you to the firemen and the policemen. They help us to stay safe,” she said.

The Taylor Aguilera family walked to the American Legion Hall from their home after hearing about the motorcade.

“I thought it was important to see [the motorcade],” said Christy Taylor.

Her daughter attends La Crescenta Elementary School. She said that her family, including father Michael Aguilera and younger son Paxton, had been talking about 9/11 and thought this motorcade was a good way to start that conversation.

“It is important for my kids to know about [9/11],” Christy added.

“It is hard to believe it was 15 years ago,” said Michael.

Later that evening a somber remembrance was held in honor of those who died during the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

There were 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers who died on Sept. 11 while they did their job to protect and serve.

“We all have the luxury, when there is an emergency. We get to go into our homes and lock our doors. We get to run away. But the men and women in our armed forces, the men and women in our law enforcement and the men and women in the fire department, they run towards someone who yells help. For that we are eternally grateful,” said Anthony Portantino, former state assemblymember who is presently running for state senate.

He shared his memories of 9/11/01 when he, like many in the Crescenta Valley, woke to the television reports of the attack. He said he remembered reading the scroll across the bottom of the TV screen reporting that firefighters and law enforcement responders who had gone into the burning buildings had been killed.

“They just ran in [because] someone needed help,” Portantino said.

L.A. County Superintendent Michael Antonovich also shared his memories of that day.

He was in Washington, D.C. at the times of the attack.

“When the first plane hit the tower we thought it was [possible] pilot error, but then we saw the second plane hit and we knew it was an attack,” Antonovich said.

He remembered going to the top of one of the buildings in the Capitol and seeing the Pentagon in flames.

Capt. Mo Khazaal, from L.A. County Fire Station 63, said he was a new recruit when the 9/11 attacks occurred.

“I was on duty. I was a brand new recruit when 9/11 happened,” he said. “One of the [other] recruits came and told us that a plane just crashed into a building [in New York].”

At first Khazaal, like many, was unsure of what type of plane it was but soon found this was not an accident.

“We gathered in the captain’s office and watched live as the second plane hit,” he said.

“We thought the next attack could be in L.A.,” he said.

The LACoFD has three shifts on any given day. When the attacks occurred shifts were held over as new shifts came on, something Khazaal had not seen before.

“This many years later our hearts are definitely with our brothers in New York and I would also say [we] can’t help but think of our own fallen brothers,” he added.

Khazaal was at Camp 16 during the Station Fire where Fire Capt. Tedmund “Ted” Hall and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones died while fighting the fire.

“I can’t hear ‘Amazing Grace’ without thinking of them and their families,” he said.

In the early morning hours of 9/11 a remembrance was held at all fire stations throughout Crescenta Valley. At Glendale Fire Station 29, firefighters stood as the flag was raised to half-staff and the names of fallen New York firefighters were read. Each station in Glendale took a portion of those names and read them after the All Call toll was rung.

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