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Barstow remembers 9/11
Veterans Home, Lenwood Elementary among event hosts
BARSTOW • Barstow and greater-area residents remembered 9/11 on Wednesday.
At the Veterans Home of California-Barstow, an audience of military veterans, city and education officials, local authorities and community members came together outside the administration building to honor the nearly 3,000 lives lost 12 years ago in the most deadly attack ever on American soil.
Toni Sanchez-Madrid, activities coordinator at the Veterans Home, provided the welcome, Veterans Home Chaplain Rev. Rich Troutman gave the invocation and the Marine Corps Logistics Base Color Guard presented the colors.
Following a flag salute by local Michael Johnson and the singing of the National Anthem by Kristen Lindly, Veterans Home Director Raymond Lau introduced the two guest speakers.
Barstow Community College President Dr. Deborah DiThomas and Barstow Fire Protection District Captain Nick DiNapoli each addressed the crowd of roughly 100.
“In the minutes, hours and days following the attack, time seemed to stand still,” DiThomas said. “As help poured in all across America, a strong sense of patriotism bonded our nation. We were all connected in a way that transcended race, creed and cultural boundaries.”
She added a nod of appreciation to the veterans in attendance.
“You fought for the freedoms we have today,” she said.
At times, DiNapoli choked up when discussing the ultimate sacrifice U.S. military casualties had made in recent wars. DiNapoli also spoke of a camaraderie firefighters feel with each other and the military.
“I just want you to know, sincerely,” he said, “even though I stand before you, I don’t stand before you as much in the sense as I stand among you.”
He called 9/11 “a sharp and vivid memory” and “a moment that changed the history and course of our lives.”
As a child in New York, he could remember playing in water spurted out by fire hydrants — “Johnny Pumps” were their nickname — and looking at the Twin Towers.
“We’d see those two buildings rising amongst the other buildings,” he said. “I represent FDNY in my heart.”
Afterward, Vietnam War veteran Charlie Ross sang America The Beautiful as David Doolittle accompanied the tune on acoustic guitar.
BCC, which co-organized the remembrance, then presented a $500 check to the Veterans Home toward purchasing a new wheelchair ramp for the facility.
Several notable members of the public were on hand including, but not limited to, Barstow Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, Barstow Police Chief Albert Ramirez, BFPD Chief Rich Ross, members from the BCC Board of Trustees and City Council, Desert Sanctuary Executive Director Peggi Fries and Disabled American Veterans No. 68 Adjutant Glen Pearl, Sr.
Pearl, a retired 32-year-veteran of the Navy, said he had traveled seven times by ship through the Suez Canal in Egypt during the 1950s and ’60s. He was disheartened by the way he said parts of the Middle East had since changed.
“I’m familiar with that area,” he said, “and the way it’s changed, it tears me up. It just breaks my heart to think about how terrible it is.”
He said he didn’t have a personal connection to 9/11 but felt the camaraderie between public servants as Dinapoli did.
“We’re our own family,” he said.
Earlier in the morning, Lenwood Elementary School hosted the MCLB Color Guard and held a moment of silence for victims of 9/11 and their families. Barstow Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Malan was in attendance.
Meanwhile, other schools in the BUSD also remembered 9/11 in some fashion as did schools in the neighboring Silver Valley Unified School District.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.