Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the day terrorists hijacked four commercial jets, crashed two into the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York City, one into the Pentagon and another near Shanksville, Pa.
Merced will commemorate the day with its first 9-11 Parade and Honor Ceremony, organized by the American Legion Riders, which are part of the American Legion and a motorcycle association.
On Sept. 11, 2001, some 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks that changed the country forever. It was the deadliest attack on American soil since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.
In the days immediately after Sept. 11, the country united in a wave of patriotism that Bill Baker, judge advocate of the American Legion Riders, said he wants to recapture and maintain Sunday with the parade.
The parade will include first responders from across the county, including Los Banos, Atwater, Merced city fire and police, Cal Fire, Atwater police, emergency medical technicians, California Highway Patrol, military personnel, honor and color guards and more. State Sen. Anthony Cannella will participate in the parade.
Beginning at G and Main streets, the parade will start at 10 a.m. Sunday and end at P and Main streets. There will be patriotic music and a ceremony with guest speakers, including a keynote speech from a father who lost his son in Iraq.
Parade attendees can attend a no-host lunch at American Legion Post 83, 939 W. Main St., which will cost $5.
There will be 103 vehicles and 160 participants, including 82 first responders and representatives of other organizations, according to Lori Mileur with the Merced Fire Department.
Baker said he didn't want people "to forget how vulnerable we are and don't want people to forget the sacrifices made by many innocent people on that day and the sacrifices the first responders made.
"For a few days after the 9-11 attacks, the whole country seemed to be unified in patriotism and came together. People were mad, were upset, but were proud to be Americans."
He said he would like to bring that feeling back for a few moments.
"There were American flags everywhere. Even though it was a sad and tragic event, the way we came together for a few days afterwards, I'd like to create that again. I'd like to see as the last float or person in the parade walks by, I'd like to see the public fall in behind and become part of it," Baker said.
Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.