HANFORD — As she talked about the importance of never forgetting what happened on Nov. 11, 2001, tears began to well up in her eyes.
Shelli Barker, a Hanford resident, was full of many emotions Tuesday at the Patriots Day Luncheon in Hanford Civic Park when she encouraged students and the community to never forget the love and unity that came immediately after the events that occurred on 9/11.
“I will always remember the love and how we came together as a nation,” Barker said. “We are called the United States, not the divided states.”
For the fourth year in a row, Barker has taken it upon herself to rally several organizations together to take time to remember 9/11, honor our local first responders and teach children about the events that shook the country 17 years ago.
In 2014, Barker and her children decided to make food for the Hanford Fire Department for 9/11. Fire Chief Chris Ekk said the event was just them sharing a meal and sharing how 9/11 affected public safety officers and individual experiences surrounding that day.
Since that simple lunch four years ago, the memorial event has grown to serve around 150 people. Barker received sponsorship and help from many different community organizations and leaders including Heart of Hanford, state Sen. Andy Vidak and Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes.
Ekk said that this event is important to continue to give people a reminder that we may no longer have the buildings that once stood, but the people are still here and the first responders are still going to help and make sacrifices daily.
Barker said that a big part of the event is to educate children who do not know what it was like to be alive during 9/11.
“They say never forget and in some ways we have,” Barker said.
Prior to the event, teachers taught students in history class about 9/11 and Barker gave a presentation to Lee Richmond Elementary School's sixth-grade students.
Trevian Hatley, 11, recounted what he remembered learning at Lee Richmond. After, he shared that he feels bad for the people who lost their lives and that he doesn’t understand why anyone would hijack a plane.
Trevian said that learning about 9/11 has taught him to always be nice to other people.
Bobbee Long, 16, said she learned about 9/11 when she was a toddler and did not understand why adults were sad about it and why she should remember the date.
She said that as she has grown she has learned how important it is to honor those who lost their lives and to respect those who step in to risk their lives and attempt to save the lives of others.
The event included presentations of awards, live music from the CJ Liscum Band and free food to students and first responders from Fatte Alberts Pizza, Ravens Hot Diggity Dog, Mercado De Valle and Sweet Nostalgia Cotton Candy.