Bakersfield observes 19th anniversary of 9/11 with pride and, yes, celebration

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Nineteen years ago today, the deadliest terrorist act in world history took place — nearly 3,000 people died in what we have come to know as simply 9/11.
There were commemorations all over the country, and on foreign soil as well. Among the tributes — at least two ceremonies in Bakersfield.

We are naturally attentive to somber commemorations that end in fives and zeroes. Ten years, 75 years. The fact that we remember the events of 9-11-2001 — an awkward 19 years ago — speaks to that day’s staying power, its lasting relevance, its continued urgency, even in a time that presents its own challenges, its own death toll, its own dire need for unity.

America remembers the events of that September 11th not only for the loss of life — immediate and subsequent — but because it was a reflection of our best selves.

There were remembrances all over America Friday including an early morning event in downtown Bakersfield at the Portrait of a Warrior Gallery at 20th and Eye — a heroes’ roll call of Kern County’s 27 fallen service members from the war on terror that 9/11 ignited.

“We need to always remember and never forget — and we need to take care of the Gold Star families in our community,” said organizer Jason Geis.

And at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on Truxtun, a steady stream of motorcyclists delivering red carnations from the Bakersfield Harley Davidson dealership to the spot that memorializes Kern County’s war dead — including those 27 men.

“Today is a day of remembrance,” said Ben Patten, manager of Harley Davidson of Bakersfield. “Today is a day to reflect on what has happened and the 3,000 people we lost — and the thousands of young men and women that have stepped up since that day to answer the call. And some of those young men and women weren’t even born when this happened.”

Some who honor the fallen on this day each year understandably and forgivably misspeak and say they’re “celebrating” 9/11. They don’t misspeak. This day honors two distinctively American characteristics — courage and selflessness — characteristics we by all means must continue to celebrate no matter whether the anniversary ends in a zero or not.

The public is invited to view the Portrait of a Warrior Gallery at 20th and Eye Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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