Posted 9/13/12 – The Sierra Madre Kiwanis Club hosted breakfast for Sierra Madre’s first responders on Tuesday following a memorial service at the fire station in memory of the victims of 9/11. In attendance were members of the SMFD, SMPD, CERT, and the Sierra Madre Emergency Communications Team (SMECT). Breakfast was held at The Lodge, where Kiwanis holds its weekly luncheon meetings.
Bean Town provided breakfast burritos, fresh fruit, muffins and croissants, and coffee and orange juice. Following a group sing of “My Country Tis of Thee” and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, Clem Bartolai gave an invocation. Kiwanis president Susan Henderson played an audio recording of a tribute to Old Glory by Jimmy Weldon, and then introduced Council member Chris Koerber. Koerber briefly discussed a conversation he was having with SMPD officer Gonzalez, and noted that first responders, similar to members of the military, are a part of something that’s “bigger than just yourself.” He noted that for many of his generation, the younger generation, and even some of his parents’ generation, it’s more about what’s in it for me, the “WIIFM” radio station. “I really appreciate that when something’s going down, and people are running out of the building,” said Koerber, “the firemen are the people running in to take care of business and help people, and I just want to say on this anniversary of 9/11, thank you very much.”
Ms. Henderson then spoke, discussing a personal experience of hers in the Oakland firestorm of 1991, when more than 3,300 single family homes and more than 400 apartments and condos were destroyed. Twenty-five people died in the fire, and 150 others were injured. Fifteen hundred firefighters from 250 agencies worked that fire, and Ms. Henderson spoke of driving down the street, unable to see in front of her, being guided by emergency personnel surrounded by flames, some of whom were there without even the heavy fire retardant uniforms to protect them. “Although I always had a great respect for our men in uniform, after that experience, nothing I had seen or could imagine, really portrayed how much police and firefighters lay their lives down on the line for us.”
Ms. Henderson then presented on behalf of Kiwanis, plaques to Chief Steve Heydorff of the Sierra Madre Fire Department and Chief Larry Giannone of the Sierra Madre Police Dept.