Sacramento City firefighters, like those across the country, felt the personal pang of grief when more than 200 New York City firefighters died in the collapse of the World Trade Center tower they had entered to try to save victims of the terrorist attack.
“When that building came down, we all knew our brother and sister firefighters weren’t going to get out of there. We may be far away, but it’s still a brotherhood, a fraternity,” said Sacramento firefighter Chris Andrew.
They have used that grief to raise money for the New York Firefighters’ Widows and Orphans Fund. On Sunday, traffic was backed up on Q Street with people wanting to show their support. On that day alone, firefighters raised more than $200,000 in Sacramento and $96,000 in Elk Grove.
Korean War veteran Joseph Karney was one of perhaps 1,000 Sacramentans who gathered in the Memorial Auditorium two days after the attack for the Community Memorial Service. He wore his security guard uniform, standing at attention as the color guard passed.
“They slapped us in the face on Tuesday. That didn’t go down too good. My heart goes out to the firemen and policemen, and especially the parents who don’t have children anymore,” Karney said, pausing through his emotions to consider how we should deal with Afghanistan before offering, “We should remove all the children and just lay the place flat.”
War fever hasn’t reached all Sacramentans.
“We are caught in a cycle of violence and we cannot stop it if the United States continues to itself be a perpetrator of violence,” said Carl Pinkston, president of Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action, which held a rally for peace outside the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on September 18, and plans to hold another one there on September 25 from 4 to 6 p.m.
He said military retaliation will only make us less safe and that “bombing assumes an entire group of people is the enemy.”
On the day of the attack, former Sacramento resident Sean McCabe sat in his new home in England, watching repeated scenes of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat looking somber and giving blood, scenes that didn’t make American television screens. He said, “There is another side here that doesn’t get shown in the U.S. much.”
Number of times “Osama bin Laden” was mentioned in the Sacramento Bee in the year leading up to the attacks (according to a keyword search on their Web site): 21
Number of times “Taliban” mentioned: 17
Number of times “N-Sync” mentioned: 37
Number of times “terrorism” mentioned: 97
Number of times “Gary Condit” mentioned: 137