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A day that changed the country

SCV residents remember the victims of Sept. 11, 2001

Posted: September 10, 2009 10:24 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
California Institute of the Arts student Emma Iocovozzi remembers the chaos in her sixth grade classroom as her peers were informed that the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were collapsing.

"It was interesting to see how teachers responded," she said. "I'm sure they weren't really trained on how to tell a class that a terrorist attack was happening.

"I didn't want to understand like I do now," the 19-year-old student said. "I didn't ask questions."

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Santa Clarita Valley residents will join millions across the country in commemorating the event and its victims privately or in planned public ceremonies.

Iocovozzi said she will honor the day with a moment of silence and her thoughts.

"I believe remembering the event brings continued awareness of the day," she said. "I feel it's kind of forgotten."

A host of activities and ceremonies will be held in the Santa Clarita Valley today.

In New York, more than 100 volunteers who worked at the World Trade Center site after the 2001 attack will read names of victims at Friday's ceremony near ground zero, though what will be built there remains debated.

In Washington, President Barack Obama will meet with family members of the dozens killed at the Pentagon.

Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, released a statement Thursday commemorating those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. "We will never forget the outpouring of support for the victims and their families or the immense sacrifices of the American people that we witnessed," said McKeon, who is the top Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee.

McKeon turned his comments to the success the U.S. military has witnessed against al-Qaeda and its terrorist network, and used the occasion to call upon Obama and Congress to fully support the U.S. military and diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.

Democratic leaders in Congress urged the Obama administration Thursday to quickly produce a plan for winning the war in Afghanistan or risk widespread opposition within the president's own party to a new troop buildup.

Fifty-one U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in August, making it the bloodiest month for the U.S. since it invaded in 2001, weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Reactions of several locals prove just how diverse American opinions can be on the significance of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I think it was a very big government conspiracy," said Richard Anthony, 20, of Valencia. "If you look at the information released, we obviously knew what was happening and didn't take any means to stop it."

Kathy Kuriz, of Saugus, believes part of 9/11's significance lies in the way terror changed the country's feelings of safety.

"Not only did they kill (thousands of) people, they made us have to worry about our bridges, airports. It affected our entire life," said Kuriz, 48.

But along with a heightened sense of cautiousness, it's also called for more appreciation, she said.

"As a whole, it made us realize we need to treasure every day and appreciate what we have," Kuriz said.

While College of the Canyons student Ian Anderson recognizes that he was young on Sept. 11, 2001, he said he saw the country come together.

"It shows how something like that could impact a country - and how segregated we were and how everyone got together so lovingly," he said. "It took something like that to get us out of our day-to-day routine."

For Iocovozzi, the significance of the event struck her when she learned a family friend had died when the towers collapsed. But she also discovered some things about human nature in the months that followed, she said.

"For many people it's so easy to jump to the wrong conclusions - there was so much hatred," said Iocovozzi, who was growing up in Savannah, Ga., at the time. "I'd go places and hear people talking (bad) about Arabs."

Now, as a 19-year-old college student, Iocovozzi believes she sees a bigger picture of how an event like 9/11 can change a country.

"It was a terrible thing that happened but at the same time," she said, "we can come out more open-minded people and better understanding of other beliefs and lifestyles that are foreign to us."

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