Santa Barbara County residents gathered at several local memorials on Sunday to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks exactly 10 years after the tragedy struck.

The events included a “Day of Remembrance” at the Santa Barbara courthouse’s Sunken Gardens, the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.’s “Service of Remembrance,” sponsored by four Montecito churches, a tribute screening of “Honoring, Celebrating, and Remembering Life” for 9/11 victim Chad Keller and the Santa Barbara Navy League’s “Welcome Home Gala” for the U.S. Marine Corps’ 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Additionally, UCSB College Republicans, the Santa Barbara Tea Party and Young America’s Foundation held “Never Forget,” a commemoration at the Santa Barbara West Beach with a flag ceremony and bagpipe tribute.

According to Young America Program Officer Ana Lightle, students and community members placed a flag for each 9/11 victim during the youth-led ceremony. “We saw that nothing was really happening at colleges and high schools to remember the attacks,” Lightle said. “Now this event occurs on 287 campuses across the country.”

The memorial’s bagpipe performance lasted from 8:46 to 9:02 a.m. — the exact times that the Twin Towers were struck — and ended with “Taps” while the flags were laid to rest.
Santa Barbara Tea Party member Diana Thorne said her daughter’s proximity to the towers while living in New York at the time of the attacks inspired her to participate in memorial and outreach programs.

“Before that day I wasn’t worrying about my country,” Thorne said. “When 9/11 happened, it was like a thunderbolt. I realized I had taken my country for granted. I started sending teddy bears to children of 9/11 victims, sending packages to troops overseas and started getting involved with the Tea Party here in Santa Barbara.”

The tenth anniversary reminds Americans of the importance of preventing similar threats, said Santa Barbara Tea Party founder and Vietnam veteran Henry Delgado.

“It’s a reminder that this country has had enemies for a long time, and we still have enemies out there,” Delgado said. “We have to be prepared.”

Fourth-year anthropology major and College Republicans member Laura Belinfante said the annual ceremony gives the community a place to mourn and reflect while also inspiring participation among UCSB’s politically diverse student body.

“It’s important to spread awareness of political activism on campus and for students to know about the weekly debates and speakers available to them,” Belinfante said. “This event is really about promoting awareness and commemorating the tragedy of those lost.”