By Miriam Raftery
September 11, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001 which killed thousands of innocent Americans shocked the consciousness of our nation. Here in San Diego’s East County, first responders and residents impacted by the disaster have been speaking out, striving to make sure that we never forget the tragedy and lessons learned on that fateful day.
La Mesa Police Department posted on Twitter, “On the 18th Anniversary of 9/11, La Mesa PD remembers those who lost their lives that day. We continue to stand together.”
La Mesa had several direct ties to the tragedy. One of the 911 hijackers worked at a La Mesa gas station. La Mesa firefighters assisted in recovery efforts at the fallen World Trade towers in New York after two hijacked planes caused the twin towers to collapse. A few years later, after San Diego's East County was devastated by the Harris wildfire, New York firefighters showed their gratitude by coming to our region to help fire survivors clean up and rebuild--including a La Mesa firefighter who lost his home in the flames.
Cal Fire tweeted, “18 years later…we reunited to remember those lost and injured in the tragic September 11, 2001 attacks.
Locally, many first responders this week participated in the annual memorial stair climb, ascending more than 100 stories in full gear to replicate the heroic actions of 911 first responders, many of whom lost their lives when the towers collapsed or in later years, succumbing to cancer and lung diseases caused by exposure to toxins and carcinogens during the rescue and recovery efforts.
Local residents also shared their memories on social media.
Bettie Wells, wife of El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, posted on Facebook, Always so proud of my brother. This is him at Ground Zero. The people here look so small in comparison to the destruction that is all around them....and yet they went and did all they could do. Then more of our people went to war because of this. I have both First Responders and a Military family. This day-9/11 has forever charted the course for the future generations of not only my family but for so many Americans. May God bless us all.”