GROVER BEACH, Calif. - Communities up and down the Central Coast came together to honor the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
A gathering in Grover Beach Wednesday highlighted the common thread we share while paying tribute to first responders.
Susan Raye traces her admiration for firefighters back to the age of four.
“I’d hear a firetruck go by and I’d chase them down the street,” said Raye, a Central Coast resident who just relocated a year ago.
Raye says after 9/11 something was "smoldering" inside of her and she wanted to create a lasting tribute for the 343 firefighters that gave the "supreme sacrifice" on September 11, 2001.
“I started by composing a letter that began ‘Dear American heroes,’ and I got out my road atlas and I circled 20 cities in every state,” said Raye.
Badge by badge, T-shirt by T-shirt, Raye’s “Quilt of Courage” took shape.
“From the time I could see the idea until I actually had it in my hands, was four years,” said Raye.
Ever since 9/11 Raye has had a different outlook on life.
“When I think about what those firemen went through that day, doesn’t even compare, pales to a flat tire,” said Raye.
She’s not sweating the small stuff and making a big gesture to first responders.
“When I said on September 11, that I’ll never forget. This is my testament to that promise,” said Rate.
For Five Cities Fire Authority Chief Steve Lieberman, the country came together in an unprecedented way 18 years ago, driven by hope.
“We were hoping the terrorists would be served justice and we were hoping that the first responders and those lost in the buildings, along with those that served in the battlefields, that those losses and those injuries and deaths weren’t in vain,” said Lieberman.
Now Lieberman asks, how do we get back to hoping?
“As time has passed I feel like we have lost touch of what holds us together as Americans because if you think about all those examples I shared with you that’s the common glue of American history,” said Lieberman.
Perhaps, in this case, it’s not glue but a stitch that can bring us together.
Raye hopes to donate the quilt to a museum in New York within the next year.