BARSTOW • A collage of images from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks decorate a bulletin board inside the cafeteria of the Veterans Home of Barstow. On a table sits miniature toy firetrucks in front of cardboard replicas of the World Trade Center on fire.
Almost a decade after 9/11, the Veterans Home of Barstow will host a ceremony today at 10:30 a.m. to commemorate the 11th anniversary and honor the lives lost. Some local veterans take pride in having served their country.
Ramiro Rueda, 79, recalls sitting in his room on Sept. 11, 2001, watching television showing footage of airplanes striking the twin towers.
“I didn’t think too much of it at the moment, because I had been used to the war — I’d seen divebombers,” he said. “And then all of a sudden, it hit me that they were attacking the United States.”
Rueda took the 9/11 attacks personally.
“I was born here and it is my country,” he said. “It was an attack against me, and many, many Americans who died.”
Rueda was 17 when he joined the Army in December 1950 shortly after the Korean War broke out. He worked as a combat engineer, blowing up bridges, roads and bunkers with explosives.
“I was in the Korean War twice,” he said. “I never got hurt, not one scratch, I’m very grateful.”
Even though his buddies were killed during the war, Rueda takes pride in serving his country.
For him, Sept. 11 will mean spending time with loved ones. Rueda plans to visit his best friend at a nursing home in Victorville.
Robert Tabor, 75, recalls Sept. 11 as a tragedy with many lives lost. Tabor watched the news on TV of the attacks on American soil from his home in Hemet. He moved to Barstow, shortly after his wife Adle succumbed to cancer in September 2008.
“It is unbelievable that it happened,” he said.
For 21 years as a civil engineer in the Air Force, Tabor traveled around the world from the Middle East, Europe to the South Pacific.
“I decided as a young kid, you didn’t have to be skilled or anything, so I joined the military,” he said.
Tabor enlisted nearly a decade after arriving in America, because both his father and brother served in the military. His father was captured as a prisoner of war during World War II in the Philippines.
He takes pride in being an American citizen and defending freedom.
“When I came to the United States, if you want to be an American, you act like an American,” he said. “I think it is the best country in the world to live.”
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or firstname.lastname@example.org