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CEREMONIES MARK AMERICA'S RESOLVE RED, WHITE, BLUE COLOR EVENTS IN ANTELOPE VALLEY.

Byline: Peggy Hager Staff Writer

PALMDALE - Thousands of Antelope Valley residents gathered at schools, at their workplaces, at government offices and in community halls Wednesday to pay tribute to the heroes and victims of Sept. 11.

In Palmdale's Poncitlan Square, a firefighter who spent four days digging for victims at the World Trade Center performed a traditional fire department ceremony: the ``four fives'' - ringing a brass bell 20 times to honor a comrade who fell in the line of duty.

``Do the right thing instead of the easy thing,'' said Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Scott Zbinden, who drove to New York with firefighter friends last Sept. 13 to help their New York brethren.

Other ceremonies were held at Lancaster City Hall, in the Alpine Grange Hall in Littlerock, at Quartz Hill's Lane Park, at Antelope Valley Hospital and at just about every school in the Antelope Valley.

At Highland High School, Junior ROTC cadets unfurled against the front of the school a 30-foot-by-20-foot U.S. flag. The giant flag had been flying in a Pennsylvania town when the fourth of the hijacked jetliners flew over Sept. 11.

In Rosamond, churches rang their bells at 8:45, 9:03, 9:43 and 10 a.m. to commemorate the crashes of the four jetliners.

Edwards Air Force Base airmen fired a 21-gun salute after readings of Jewish, Christian and Muslim Scriptures.

In front of Lancaster City Hall, more than 300 people attended an 11 a.m. ceremony, most dressed in red, white and blue. El Dorado School fifth- graders sang country singer Lee Greenwood's ``God Bless the U.S.A.'' and the Tehachapi Mountain Pipes and Drums performed bagpipe music.

``This will be one of those days where everyone will remember where they were at,'' Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster, told the Lancaster crowd about last Sept. 11.

The attack, Runner added, did not produce the result the terrorists wanted.

``Through adversity and challenge, the American people became stronger,'' he said.

The Poncitlan Square crowd also was dressed mainly in red, white and blue, from head scarves to T-shirts emblazoned with the American flag. ``A year ago today our country was attacked by cowardly people who do not like our way of life ... They don't understand this country. They don't understand our people,'' said state Sen. W.J. ``Pete'' Knight, who, like Runner, traveled Wednesday from ceremonies in Palmdale, to Lancaster, to Littlerock and back to Palmdale. ``America is an idea. America is a freedom ... that we have fought for and maintained.''

CAPTION(S):

6 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 3 -- color) At top, three City Council members, a sheriff's deputy and firefighter who each brought a section of the American flag to the stage at the Lancaster ceremony. Above, guests hold flags Wednesday during the playing of the national anthem at Palmdale's Patriot Day observance. At left, Fire Capt. Scott Zbinden, a firefighter who spent four days digging for victims at the World Trade Center performed a traditional fire department ceremony: the ``four fives'' - ringing a brass bell 20 times to honor a comrade who fell in the line of duty.

(4) Junior ROTC cadets at Highland High unfurl a giant flag that had been flying in a Pennsylvania town when the fourth of the hijacked jetliners flew over Sept. 11.

(5 -- 6) The Tehachapi Mountain Pipes and Drums, left, performs in Lancaster on Wednesday while guests at the city's ceremony observe a moment of silence.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 12, 2002
Words:578
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