Three days before the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in unincorporated north Whittier honored the victims with the help of about 60 first responders.
Sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and others placed 2,977 American flags — the number of people killed that day — in a section of the park that will be called the “Field of Healing.”
Rose Hills also is flying a Flag of Honor, a flag that lists the names of each victim.
“Rose Hills is a place where people come to mourn but also to remember their loved ones,” Lt. Jodi Huak of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera station, said.
“This gives us an opportunity, and whether their family members or friends know it or not, we are able to pay homage to those who sacrificed the ultimate price for trying to help those in need,” Hutak said. “This gives us a chance to come here and have a moment of silence.”
Many recalled where they were at the time of the attacks. Leonel Gomez, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was in history class at Garfield High School and remembers his teacher turning on the television.
“When you’re younger, you really don’t understand what this means,” Gomez said.
But on Wednesday, Gomez called it an honor to be placing the flags.
“We’re doing it for the fallen heroes on 9/11, our friends and their family members,” said Gomez, who was joined by 15 deputies from the Pico Rivera station.
Howie Lemus, an engineer for the Los Angeles County Fire Department who works at Station 40 in Pico Rivera, said planting the flags gave him time to reflect and be thankful for the job he has.
“It’s just an honor to be part of this and pay tribute to those guys who sacrificed their lives, both first responders and innocent people just earning a living,” Lemus said.
Wednesday was a chance to remember, said Marion Ruiz, a volunteer for the Sheriff’s Department who works out of Pico Rivera.
“So many were killed back then … too many times we forget, Ruzi said.
Gigi Guerrero, another volunteer, agreed: “It’s just to remember all the lives that were taken that day. It’s an honor to be here.”