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Events help local residents learn about, remember the attacks of 9/11

Posted: September 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Ming, center, holds the microphone for Brandon Henley, 9, left, and his brother Nathaniel, 6, dressed in police and fire uniforms as they honor first responders.

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From Stevenson Ranch seniors cooking up chili for Patriot Day to Boy Scouts planting American flags in Newhall, Santa Clarita Valley residents made it clear Sunday they are not about to forget the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Nine-year-old Mia hadn’t been born when terrorists hit New York City, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania 10 years ago, but on Sunday she was coloring a picture to send to troops still deployed as a result of those acts.

“They told us about 9/11 at school. I learned about it from my teacher,” she said, putting the final touches of green crayon to her troops-bound picture inside a community room at Dr. Richard H. Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch.

Many others besides Mia who took part in the daylong series of remembrance ceremonies around the Santa Clarita Valley also had no personal memory of that day.

But events like those held Sunday ensured the terrorist attacks would be remembered as a major event in history, even if those doing the remembering had no personal recollection of the day’s horrors and fears.

Coloring her picture beside Mia was Anna, 10, born just before 9/11.

“My grandma told me about Sept. 11 today,” Anna said. “I was really sad when she told me about all those people who were innocent who died.”

Both she and Mia know about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, largely because of remembrance events like those held Sunday.

Three groups hosted the eighth annual Patriot Day in Stevenson Ranch: the Richard Rioux Park Senior Club, the Hands and Hearts ministry group and Christ Lutheran Church.

Barbara Anderson, who volunteers her time to Hands and Hearts packaging personal items to send to troops, said of the recipients, “The No. 1 thing they seem to want is beef jerky.”

A donation box placed next to the simmering chili was filled with requested items, including trail mix, body wash and magazines.

While kids at Richard Rioux Park were writing letters and drawing pictures for troops overseas serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, several teens joined others in a special commemorative performance at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

The show with the theme “Remember. Honor. Reflect. 9.11.11” featured many local young dancers who were in kindergarten when the terrorists struck.

Peyton Louchead attended the show because her dancer friends Paige Hart and Lilly Erickson were in it.
Does she remember anything of that day?

No, she said.

But her mother, Becky Louchead, who teaches at Rio Vista Elementary School, remembers it well. She said the mandate for teachers across the Santa Clarita Valley that day was to assure their students they were safe.

“I teach first grade, so we weren’t supposed to get them upset, just to keep it mellow and tell them some bad people had done something to the United States. And to reassure them that they were safe and that their parents would talk to them about it.”

Over in Newhall, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were planting CD-sized American flags in the grass at Veterans Historical Plaza.

Mary and Ola Ostlund, both in scout uniforms, proudly watched their three sons — Max, 14; Andreas, 11; and Daniel, 9 — planting flags as the names of 9/11 victims were read by volunteers at the park.

“I am extraordinarily proud of them,” Mary Ostlund said, waiting nearby with a cluster of flags in hand. “It is extremely important that we don’t forget. And, I feel it’s my responsibility to make sure my sons don’t forget.”

City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who served as Santa Clarita’s mayor on Sept. 11, 2001, addressed those in attendance.

“It was recognized as one of the most traumatic days in America’s history,” Weste said. “We changed that day. We were a little naive before and we became a lot stronger after we united together in support of each other.”

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