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9/11 ceremony speaker: 'We'll always remember'

By Sonny Long
Sept. 11, 2012 at 4:11 a.m.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor talks with Doris Kleiber, who was instrumental for many years in hosting the 9/11 ceremonies at Citizens Medical Center.

THANKS DORIS!

Before the 9/11 remembrance ceremony on Tuesday, Doris Kleiber was recognized for her work in putting on 9/11 ceremonies the previous 10 years at Citizens Medical Center. A 19-year volunteer at the hospital, Kleiber was thrilled that Victoria was continuing the tradition.

"I wouldn't have wanted it to stop, just because I wasn't able to have it this year. This means a lot to me," said Kleiber, 82. "I had five brothers in the service and one still in. We've always been patriotic."

Victoria City Manager Charmelle Garrett said the city was happy to assist with the program and then take it on when Kleiber asked.

"A lot of credit goes to Mrs. Kleiber for getting it started. She's the one that took the initiative to do the first one and keep it going. She did a great job," said Garrett.

They came to pay their respects.

Men and women in uniform from the Victoria Police Department, Victoria Fire Department and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office gathered with dozens of their civilian counterparts Tuesday morning at DeLeon Plaza for a remembrance ceremony commemorating the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Students from the Victoria College Police Academy were also in attendance.

Les Weaver, a Vietnam War Air Force veteran, was among those at the ceremony.

"The first responders do a job I wouldn't think about doing," said Weaver of American Legion Post 166. "It's hard to run into a burning building. I have the utmost respect for them."

Also showing her respect was Vicky Renard, a Nursery volunteer firefighter who worked with a fire department near Houston on Sept. 11, 2001.

"We sent five of our men to ground zero when it happened," she said, struggling to maintain her composure. "It was important to be here to represent our men. I want everyone to know that it's very important to remember what happened. We lost a lot of good men and women that day."

About 3,000 people died in the attacks including about 400 emergency workers.

Tuesday's ceremony included remarks from Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong, Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi, Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor, Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig and Victoria Fire Chief Taner Drake.

Pozzi, a Vietnam Army veteran, delivered strong words to those responsible for the terrorist attacks, calling them "cowards."

"What did the cowards think we were going to do? Surely they didn't think we'd fold as a country. Not our America," said Pozzi.

He added America is still the greatest country in the world and always will be because of the heroes like the first responders and others who answer the call to help.

"So, yeah, you cowards, we'll remember. We'll always remember because we love this country and we'll continue to do so. And we won't forget."

Following the guest speakers, Dustin Carter of the Victoria Fire Department Honor Guard sounded the last alarm.

The ceremony concluded with the playing of taps.

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