By Lt. Sarah Watson, AA/Public Information Officer
California Rehabilitation Center

On Sept. 9 at 7:30 a.m., the California Rehabilitation Center held a ceremony in remembrance of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, where nearly 3,000 people lost their lives and more than 6,000 were injured.

Zayra Gonzalez, Inmate Veterans Group staff sponsor, said she is very proud of the work the men do and the efforts they put into every ceremony in which they are allowed to participate. The group consists of 25 inmates who represent all branches of the US Armed Forces.  The veterans were accompanied by inmate Gabriel Huerta, a trumpet player who played Taps, and inmate Colby Urban, who sang the National Anthem. They volunteered their time because they are not veterans.

Sensitive Needs Yard Inmate Veterans In Prison Group Color Guard presented the flag, while a host of staff watched as they marched from the Facility to the flagpole area.

Inmate Thomas Danielly, a veteran of the US Army, gave a welcome address where he thanked Warden Cynthia Tampkins for giving them the opportunity to honor the heroes and victims from the worst terrorist attack in US history. He talked about some of the events that happened that day stating, “While all who endured that terrible day can be considered brave, there are some who went above and beyond the call of duty trying to save lives and ultimately prevented the tragedy from becoming even worse.  At the World Trade Center alone, a staggering 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York police officers and 37 port authority police officers paid the ultimate sacrifice.”  He closed by saying, “This day in history turned more than a few ordinary Americans into heroes. We will never forget that day and will always continue to pay honor to all the fallen heroes.”

The flag was raised while staff and inmates saluted and the National Anthem was sung.

The inmate speech of the morning was given by inmate Dustin Lewis, a veteran of the US Navy, who said, “9/11 attacks had a powerful impact on all Americans. … Two former US Marines put their uniforms back on and searched through rubble that could have collapsed at any moment. They found two survivors.  Rick Rescorla, head of Corporate Security for Morgan Stanley, was responsible for saving more than 2,700 lives, and he sung ‘God Bless America’ and ‘Men of Harlech’ to keep people calm while they evacuated.”

These were just two of the seven incredible stories of heroism he recounted. Lewis closed his address with a quote from President Bush: “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.  These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”

Warden Tampkins took the stage and brought tears to many when she told the story of a firefighter who was caught in traffic and ran two miles with all his gear to come to the aid of many who had been affected by this terrorist attack.  Warden Tampkins ended her speech by asking for a moment of silence for our fallen heroes and the victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

The ceremony was closed out by inmate Matthias Anderson, a veteran of the US Marines, with the invocation while Taps played.