UNION CITY -- On Dec. 7 each year, Carole O'Hare received a telephone call. It was her mother, Hilda Marcin, reminding her to never forget that day in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Now, on Sept. 11, O'Hare remembers her mother, who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93, the San Francisco-bound plane hijacked by terrorists before it crashed near Shanksville, Pa. Marcin was one of 40 passengers and crew who died.

On Tuesday, O'Hare and nearly 80 other people who attended a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony at the Flight 93 Memorial in Union City.

"This day is an important, defining day in our nation's history and it's also the day my mother was murdered," she said. "We can never forget this day; it's a national day but it's also personal for me."

The ceremony honored the 2.996 lives lost in the Setp. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. After a moment of silence, and a prayer led by Alameda County Sheriff's Office chaplain Paul Sanftner, roses were laid atop the memorial's stone tablets and passengers' family members -- including O'Hare and Cathy Stefani -- were introduced.

Stefani's 21-year-old daughter, Nicole Miller, died on Flight 93.

"It's nice to see people still come out to pay respects, but this day brings back sad, horrible memories," said Stefani, a San Jose resident. "Time can make it a little easier, but when 9/11 comes along every year, it opens everything up again."

Mark Bingham, a Los Gatos man and UC Berkeley graduate, also was on the ill-fated airplane that departed from Newark, N.J. that morning. Bingham, a reserve flanker on the 1991 Cal rugby National Championship squad, is credited with banding together with several Flight 93 passengers to prevent terrorists from crashing into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Jo Ellen Hruby, a retired United Airlines flight attendant, praised those passengers while pointing to the Union City memorial's stone tablets adorned with the names of each person aboard the plane. "What all these people did was beyond bravery because they knew they were going to die," she said.

Hruby, an Oakland resident, said she knew three United Airlines colleagues who died aboard Flight 93: pilot Jason Dahl, and flight attendants CeeCee Lyles and Lorraine Bay.

"I know how strong they had to be to do what they did, to take that airplane down," she said.

Sept. 11 was remembered at other ceremonies in several East Bay cities Tuesday:

  • Danville: Hosted by veterans' groups and the Exchange Club of San Ramon Valley, a memorial was scheduled to begin at 5:50 p.m. at All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park.

  • Lafayette/Walnut Creek: The Lafayette Flag Brigade's 11th annual ceremony and candlelight vigil was scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. at El Curtola Bridge over Highway 24.

  • Martinez: The Contra Costa County board of supervisors heard presentations from the Contra Costa Fire Protection District and the Sheriff's Department at the County Administration Building.

  • Pleasanton: The Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department hosted a ceremony outside Fire Station No. 1, where a station open house also was held.

    Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.