gatherings


Part of our morning routine: Pumpkin, Ranger, Patchy, The Jig, and Pepper nomming in their regular spots. Not shown: Bink, who prefers to dine upstairs rather than mix with the proletariat. Also not shown: The elaborately choreographed pre-nom dance that happens with everyone eventually winding up where they’re supposed to be.

Last month, I wrote about the privilege and honor of being able in my own small way to participate in a ceremony at Rio Hondo College on the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.

This past weekend I was pointed to visual proof of my involvement in the form of a photo montage from a campus photographer that appeared in the monthly newsletter put out by the college’s president. I’m there — rear row, second in from the left — near the center of the montage among three of my fellow Police Academy cadets, to the right of the Fire Academy class (click it for the bigger picture):

It was nice to be able to say I was there. Nicer still to see.

 

In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a big deal — my participation in a ceremony this morning at Rio Hondo College honoring and remembering all of those affected by the horrific events 11 years ago today.

But it was a big deal to me. It was an honor to drive out to Whittier this morning, put on a freshly laundered and pressed Rio Hondo College Police Academy uniform atop a pair of specially shined shoes and join three of my fellow cadets on the campus quad. And represent.

The event was brought to our attention a little more than a week ago. The college’s Associated Student Body leaders had invited any available cadets from the academy to be involved in the event.

My first reaction was rather dismissive.

Then I thought on it harder and it dawned on me what a unique opportunity this was not only to show pride in my academy but to honor those in public safety who laid down their lives on September 11 many doing a job I myself now aspire to.

Some say I’m 20 years too old to chase such a goal. I say to them: watch me. Certainly I am a long hard way from that achievement. There are many push-ups to do, miles to run, shoes to shine, uniforms to press, and all manner of tests and tactics, protocols and procedures to pass and master before I can get to graduation next year, much less then begin to seek employment… probably from some who’ll look at me and say I’m 20 years too old to chase such a goal.

Daunting? Yes. Doable. Yes.

For now, though — for this morning — I didn’t think about all that. Instead I thought about the privilege of standing with my fellow cadets on this day — a student of public service and safety on a day made so sacred by those public servants who we lost.

We marched past a gathered crowd of college students and staff, took our positions of attention, and saluted when we were supposed to, including the full minute of silence at 9:11 a.m. Then when it was over we marched out past the crowd.

Proud.

 


(click for the bigger picture)

I couldn’t have asked for a better day, a better place to explore, or a better group of people within which to explore it. There was somewhere around 12 others old friends and new who set out for the Eastside from Union Station via the Gold Line on a journey that turned out to be mega-serendipitous, what with the chance meet-up a former chair of the Boyle Heights Historical Society as we walked past his house, the awesome Libros Schmibros lending library/bookstore opening up an hour earlier than usual for us, and — best of all — arriving in front of the closed off Breed Street Shul at the same time as a caretaker who was kind enough to allow us in for a wonderful look around the amazing place. Last but not least were the drummers and dancers we found performing at Ruben Salazar Park.

Towards the end, the group got seriously scattered, and when I arrived back at Union Station the young lady I was walking with was the only one to whom I got to say goodbye. I then debated for 1.2 seconds whether I should wait for anyone else to  say some farewells and thanks. I would have debated longer but my sore legs said “You know that thing above us — as in your ass? Yeah, well get it home and into a comfy chair.”

And so I split.

My full photoset is here on Flickr.

Pedaling up from Silver Lake with my friend Steve, to be part of the contingent of All-City Toy Ridazz coming from Highland Park, we were joined there by a group from Pasadena before proceeding first to the new public space at Confluence Park near the LA River to await the arrival of cyclists coming from the San Fernando Valley before heading downtown to converge with rides from all over the greater-Los Angeles area at the historic Los Angeles Plaza gazebo by Olvera Street to donate the toys we carried. That was then followed by a massive ride of 600-plus that wound through downtown to Washington Boulevard before coming back up and over the 4th Street Bridge to Boyle Heights’ Hollenbeck Park for the after-party. From there I headed home, ending up with the cam’s battery finally running out of juice around 1:30 a.m. while I was stopped at Kiké’s taco truck at 2nd and Beaudry for some much-needed sustenance.

PS. In case you’re interested in how I dressed for the part and rolling party, here’s a still from the timelapse of me on my way home from Hollenbeck Park snapping some pix from the 4th Street bridge. Yeah, I get into it.

Hey! Here’s yours truly with my friends Joni and Don at the beginning of Michael Schneider’s 5th Great Los Angeles Walk (GLAW). I found the above screen capture in Michael’s walk recap on his Franklin Avenue blog, taken from the piece Eyewitness News did Saturday afternoon on the event. Peace.

And for more visuals along the almost-16-mile hike, check out my photoset here on Flickr, and the GLAW group pool here.

Just amazing how a community can come together. When I turned the corner yesterday afternoon and came upon the hundreds of people gathered at the Silver Lake Recreation Center, there for a walk organized to honor and remember Dr Marc Abrams — Silver Lake’s indefatigable “Walking Man” — I choked up at such a wondrous sight. It made me so proud to be a part of this neighborhood.

Flickr photoset is here.

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