At the Richard Nixon Museum, Patti Trentini, one of the foundation members, remembers making breakfast for her three children before a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard when she received an urgent voicemail from her sister on September 11, 2001.
When Trentini called her sister back, her brother-in-law answered. Trentini’s parents had been on Flight 11 from Boston headed to Los Angeles International Airport.
“He said their plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. The rest of the day was the beginning of the darkest time in my life,” Trentini said.
Trentini was one of over 400 people commemorating the 2,977 Americans lost that day at the Richard Nixon Museum in Yorba Linda on Tuesday.
The museum also included a special display of steel and soil taken from the World Trade Center after the attack, as well as “a flag that was flown over ground zero”, said Chris Nordyke, Nixon foundation events director.
Don Barnes, county undersheriff and recurring commemoration guest speaker, said 9/11 brought about “important change” on how local law enforcement operates in the U.S. to prevent similar attacks in the future.
“In the 17 years since we have seen dramatic change in our nation’s attitude and concerns about safety, vigilance and privacy,” Barnes said. “The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has resources dedicated to detecting and stopping terrorism in our jurisdiction.”
Barnes praised the county’s Intelligence Assessment Center, which is steered by the Sheriff’s Department, and the county’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is a collaboration with the FBI and other entities that investigate terrorist activities. He thanked them for opening up communication and information-sharing between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
“The ability to communicate openly and quickly, to share information swiftly and without barriers has been essential to preventing additional attacks against our homeland. Let me assure you attacks have been prevented,” Barnes said, adding that “poor public policy” regarding communication between law enforcement agencies could return the U.S. to “a pre-9/11 condition” and put the nation at risk.
Over 2,600 people were killed in the World Trade Center, 125 were killed in the Pentagon, 343 New York firefighters and 23 New York Police officers. The number who died because of the terrorist attacks are greater than that of Pearl Harbor, said Brian Fennessy, Orange County Fire Authority chief, in his commemoration speech.
The New York medical examiner’s office is still working on identifying the remains of 9/11 victims from ground zero every day. More than 1,000 people have still not been positively identified yet, Barnes said.
“In one year’s time Americans born on Sept. 11, 2001 will have an opportunity to serve their country. Many marines who served in the Iraq conflict joined shortly after the terrorist attacks,” said Scott Huesing, US Marine Cpl. Maj., in his memorial address.
“I think it’s very easy for people to go about their daily lives and forget that there are men and women who protect us,” Trentini said. “Nobody should ever forget what happened that day and what it represented to this country.”