Twelve years after the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds gathered at the Healing Fields at Tempe Beach Park this week to remember the lives lost.

The event, which is put on each year by the Exchange Club of Tempe, came to an end with a candle light vigil Wednesday night. Hundreds of volunteers passed out candles that were placed at the base of more than 2,900 American flags standing to represent each victim of 9/11.

Guest speaker Tim Chambers encouraged those present to be grateful for first responders.

“I had no idea the way first responders put it on the line every day to protect us on the home front,” Chambers said. “I had a whole new found respect for them after I spent three days digging through the rubble finding closure for victim’s families… I owe my life to a first responder. I think we all do.”

Chambers was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. He had just left the building when he saw the plane go over his head. He said he spent days helping dig through rubble and then watching children of families that had lost loved ones, as they continued to search.

The guest speaker said the one thing that will unite the country is compassion.

The Healing Fields take over Tempe Beach Park each year on Sept. 11. A flag is placed to remember each victim. The flags will come down on Sunday, Sept. 15.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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