OAKLAND (BCN) -- Oakland firefighters, police and city officials gathered Friday morning under the gaze of a large American flag to remember those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that occurred 20 years ago Saturday.
The flag hung from the ladders of two fire trucks just outside the Lake Merritt Amphitheater.
"No one ever ever forgets where they were on the day of Sept. 11," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. "Today is a day for us to remember all who were lost."
Schaaf acknowledged the constant state of readiness of police and firefighters, who can be called "at a moment's notice to run into danger" and who never pause to think about what they will lose by doing so.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and into a field in Pennsylvania.
"We gather to remember their loss and honor their legacy," Oakland Fire Chief Reginald Freeman said while thanking Oakland's fire personnel for what they have done to make Oakland stronger.
Fire officials said 412 of those who died in the attack were New York City emergency workers, 343 of whom were New York City firefighters, including a chaplain and two paramedics, who had responded to the fallen towers.
The attacks that day also took the lives of more than 70 law enforcement officers, more line-of-duty deaths than any other event in American history, Oakland fire officials said.
Hundreds more police and firefighters have died or become ill due to toxic debris following the towers' collapse in New York.
Oakland Fire Capt. John Farrell responded to the World Trade Center site as part of a strike team that was deployed to New York from California.
"I was very proud to go," he said, even though his first child had been born five months earlier.
He continues to serve the strike team as a safety officer. California has eight teams that deploy to assist in the event of natural or manmade disasters.
Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong summed up the reason for Friday's event.
"Today, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
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