Duty. Honor. Sacrifice.
Those are the words engraved on the Vietnam War monument at Sid Goldstein Freedom Park in Westminster.
Just feet away from the monument, those words were spoken on Thursday to remember a different event in United States history — Sept. 11, 2001.
Members of public as well as uniformed officers and firefighters on Thursday, Sept. 10, quietly gathered to honor those who died that day.
Deputy Chief Dan Schoonmaker said he found it ironic that those who sought to destroy the United States, made the nation stronger.
“It doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down, we have proven that our American spirit will never be taken away,” Schoonmaker said. “We have proven red, white and blue runs in our blood.
“We are here today to honor those whose courage made history and will forever inspire generations of Americans to come.”
Orange County Fire Authority and Westminster Police Chaplain Robert Benoun went to New York three times after the event to assist in the clean up effort.
He recalled the tremendous loss of life.
“On that day, we lost 343 NYFD, 37 officers of the Port Authority, 23 NYPD killed in the line of duty and close to 3,000 civilians,” he said, before leading the crowd in prayer. “As we pray, we remind ourselves we will never forget about those who keep our nation free and strong.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sergio Contreras called on the community to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day by showing gratitude for those who continue to serve.
“Let us continue paying our respects to the memory of those we lost, and salute and honor our local heroes,our police and firefighters, who risk their lives every day to keep our families safe,” Contreras said. ” Let us never forget the tragedy of 9-11, which serves as a reminder that our community and nation are stronger when united.”
As part of the ceremony, the Westminster Honor Guard raised the flag to half-mast as the community paid their respects with a moment of silence.
“We honor and remember the bravery and heroism shown by so many during that terrible time,” said Westminster Mayor Tri Ta. “We can never get back those lives lost or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed.”
“Let us now honor those who have been lost; let us rededicate ourselves to the ideals that define our community; and let us look to the future with hearts full of hope.”