Candlelight Vigil on 9-11 honors fallen heroes

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Candlelight Vigil on 9-11  honors fallen heroesResidents participate in the annual Candlelight Vigil, held at dusk in Freedom Park on the anniversary of 9-11, in memory of the heroes who gave their lives that day for their countrymen — Photo by Laura Austin

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On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, Americans received a grievous reminder that not all uniformed men and women lose their lives in foreign battlefields.

That day, 412 first responders who rushed into action to save their fellow citizens were killed amid the fallout of attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Their numbers would represent about 14 percent of the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day when terrorists targeted NYC, the Pentagon and our national capitol in the most deadly coordinated domestic attack in our history.

Today, our first responders are undeterred in their mission to protect the public. But the brothers and sisters of those fallen heroes, and the countless civilians who remain under their protection, continue to acknowledge the universal truth that “greater love hath no man than he who lays down his life for another.”

On this Tuesday, Sept. 11 — the 17th anniversary of that mournful day — residents are encouraged to come to Freedom Park at twilight.

Against the backdrop of a giant American Flag and rows of Kern County and China Lake firefighters — along with the somber tones of the Kern County Pipe Band — hundreds are expected to gather in remembrance of the fallen heroes of 9-11.

The vigil will include music, keynote addresses, recordings of the emergency 9-1-1 calls from Sept. 11 and a “last call” ceremony paying tribute to the first responders who do not return home.

The ceremony is the highlight of the week-long Remembrance Field, staged each year by the Ridgecrest Exchange Club in partnership with the Naval Air Weapons Center China Lake.

The event kicks off Saturday with the Parade of 1000 Flags, which starts at 9 a.m. at the Sierra Lanes Plaza and proceeds north on China Lake Boulevard and west on California Avenue to end at Freedom Park.

This year’s parade ceremony will feature a patriotic lip-sync challenge by the Ridgecrest Police Department, as well as greetings from elected, military and emergency service leadership.

Eleven bagpipers will lead the parade and the Burroughs High School Marching Band preceding 1,000 flagbearers. This patriotic formation is joined by China Lake brass, uniformed military in their dress whites, along with elected officials representing state, county and local government.

“This level of participation speaks to the greatness of this community and their love of country,” said Parade Coordinator Pat Farris.

Anyone wanting to march in the parade is encouraged to call Farris at 760-371-4301. Participants should bring water.

Story First Published: 2018-09-07