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9/11 memorial services planned in Merced, Mariposa counties

A 9/11 memorial containing pieces of steel I-beams from the World Trade Center sits at Mariposa Arts Park.
A 9/11 memorial containing pieces of steel I-beams from the World Trade Center sits at Mariposa Arts Park. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Communities in the area continue to pay respects to the thousands who lost their lives after terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers 14 years ago.

Several ceremonies are planned Friday in Merced and Mariposa counties in remembrance of 9/11.

The point, organizers said, is to show that “no one has forgotten.”

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department will host a brief ceremony at noon at Arts Park in downtown Mariposa. Kristie Mitchell, public information officer with the Sheriff’s Department, said the event will start at 12:15 p.m. and will only last about 15 minutes. “The Sheriff’s Office chose ... around lunchtime so that people who work in town can come out,” she said.

Led by Sheriff Doug Binnewies, the community is invited to meet around the 9/11 Memorial site in the park. The sculpture is crafted from four steel I-beams recovered from ground zero in New York City.

Each beam, according to the sculpture’s description, pays homage to a specific group lost in the attack. The first represents the 2,753 civilians who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. The second is a symbol for the 55 military members who died in the Pentagon.

A third is for the 60 law enforcement officers killed in the attack, and the fourth honors the 343 firefighters and emergency medical service personnel who became that day’s fallen heroes.

The beams are placed on top of one another at specific angles: 9, 11, 20 and 01 degrees, symbolic of the infamous date.

According to the Mariposa County Arts Council, the sculpture was unveiled in 2011, after the county Fire Department applied to receive steel remains from the World Trade Center site.

More than 2,000 pieces of steel recovered from the site have served as artifacts to anchor memorials or museum exhibits in all 50 states and eight other countries, according to The Associated Press. The news agency reported there are fewer than 30 pieces of steel left, and items are still being sought by nonprofits, museums and other groups for memorials.

Merced Superior Court officials will unveil one of those I-beam pieces at 2 p.m. today(Friday) at the main courthouse, 2260 N St. in Merced, according to court CEO Linda Romero-Soles.

Binnewies also will speak at the 9/11 “Honor our Fallen Heroes” event with VFW Post 9454 and Auxiliary at 7 p.m. at Coulterville Park. The ceremony will be followed by a candlelight walk.

In Atwater, the city and Police Department will host their annual Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance event outside the City Council chambers at 750 Bellevue Road. The event will start at 6 p.m. and run for about an hour, organizers said.

Police Lt. Samuel Joseph said the ceremony has become an Atwater tradition. “We do it as a day of remembrance for those we lost and for those who continue to fight,” Joseph said.

“We’re planning an even bigger event next year for the 15th anniversary,” he added.

This year’s event will include a recognition of first responders and a roll call of local servicemen and women who were killed in the line of duty.

The Atwater High School Falcon Band also will perform before going to the school’s football game against Clovis High, where veterans and active-duty personnel also will be honored.

In Merced, university students and community members are taking a slightly different approach. UC Merced will observe a National Day of Service with an all-day cleanup event at Lake Yosemite. According to organizers, students and residents are welcome to drop in at any time between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Participants who mention they are taking part in the National Day of Service will not have to pay the park’s vehicle entrance fee.

Ana B. Ibarra: 209-385-2486, @ab_ibarra

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