9/11: Paying their respects

West Sacramento’s Cheng Saetern takes a photo of son Derrick Saelee; watching are family members Sharon Saechao and (partially hidden) Abigail Saelee (News-Ledger photo)


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The flags returned on Friday, thousands of them, fluttering in just about the same Southport location they have occupied on each anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

There’s one flag for each victim of that day – in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in a doomed United flight crashed into a field. And while the annual memorial is the brainchild of former West Sacramento resident John Vinson, the number of volunteers has grown.

West Sacramentans new and old have come to expect and look for the flag tribute at South River Road and Jefferson Boulevard in Southport every year about this time.

LEFT: Christina Vinson and Kevin Langford talk to a visitor to the 9/11 memorial at the Southport site (News-Ledger photo)

Monday afternoon, Vinson’s daughter Christina was sitting under a shade with Kevin Langford, staffing the display. Behind them, towards Jefferson Boulevard, was a firefighter’s uniform mounted on a chair, symbolizing the first responders who lost their lives responding to the World Trade Center disaster.

Christina Vinson said that the role of overseeing the flag memorial is a shared one.

“It’s lit up at night,” she said. “My two older brothers watch at night.”

Others sit in shifts, with a guestbook in front of them. Nearby was a shade tree and table manned by former West Sacramento City Clerk Helen Kanowsky, a volunteer looking for recruits to the fire department’s Community Emergency Response Team squad.

A few families began to arrive and stroll into the flag display.

One was the family of Cheng Saetern and Sharon Saechao.

“This is the first year we’ve lived in West Sacramento,” said Saetern.

“We wanted to remember all the people who died,” added Saechao.

The flags at this year's memorial were grouped, disaster by disaster. This field memorialized the victims of United Flight 93, whose crew and passengers died after their plane was hijacked and some passengers attempted to retake the craft. (News-Ledger photo)

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Leave a Reply