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In remembrance of their sacrifice

Anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks is commemorated locally with tributes to local Marine

Posted: September 11, 2010 10:10 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2010 4:30 a.m.

A Santa Clarita Boy Scout plants one of hundreds of tiny American flags used to decorate Veterans Memorial Plaza in Newhall on Saturday in honor of the victims and first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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From the tragic minutes that unfolded nine years ago on Sept. 11 to the tragic minutes that recently claimed the life of a local, young United States Marine Corps hero, first responders to the terrorist attacks and our latest responders were remembered Saturday.

Fallen United States Marine Corps Pfc. Jake William Suter, who lived in Stevenson Ranch, was honored at a 9/11 memorial at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on Walnut Street in Newhall.

His stepfather and mother, Chris and Michelle Unthank, were presented a plaque and a deed for a brick-sized portion of the plaza.

“We appreciate this for all our soldiers, all our seamen, all our airmen and all our Marines for the sacrifice they make every day,” Chris Unthank told a group of about 100 people who had gathered at the park.

“Please support our troops,” he said.

The honorary brick, presented by the local Knights of Columbus — etched with  Suter’s name, rank and dates of service to his country — is expected to be laid near the park statue of a drummer boy, against scores of other bricks honoring others who have also served our country.

“Today, we are remembering some of the most amazing acts of heroism,” Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste said as Santa Clarita Boy Scouts planted hundreds of American flags in and around the park’s central oval green space.

“America was changed forever, and we have resolved to be a stronger nation,” she said. “We are a nation of survivors, and fighters, and we march onward.”

Weste wanted to make sure all those attending the 9/11 memorial acknowledged our military men and women by  asking for a show of hands at the park.

Several held up their arms — some with white hair, some wearing baseball hats emblazoned with “Korean War Veteran” and some wearing vests denoting service in Vietnam.

All received applause from those attending the service.

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley 9/11 Memorial Organizing Committee dubbed the event: “We Remember: 2,976 reasons to never forget.”

It took more than a hour to read the names of people who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

On that day, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 2,976 people when 19 al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four jets. Two of the jets crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third jet crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and a fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., when passengers and flight crew fought to retake control of the plane.

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar introduced Suter’s parents after praising the Marine for his service.

“Marine Pfc. Jake Suter was a young, strong American who did his part as so many have done before him,” he said.

Suter was 18 when he died in the early morning hours of May 29 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province in the northern part of Afghanistan.

Within just a couple of weeks of graduating from West Ranch High School, Suter signed up for boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

He trained as an infantry assaultman, excelled rapidly and quickly earned his Eagle, Globe and Anchor Marines emblem.

Within a very short time, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 111 Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Six months later, he was fighting in Afghanistan.

After the speeches Saturday, memorial organizers raised more than $900 with a barbecue for a charity called the Iraq Star Foundation.


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