Kelly Wetzel’s fondest memory of her father was from a beach camping trip when he picked her up and led her to the cliff side because she was afraid to walk up to it.
Michael Wetzel was one of 14 people killed in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, when a county worker and his wife armed with assault rifles and pistols broke into an office holiday party and killed those people. who gathered. 22 others were injured in the attack.
Six years later, a large bronze bell rang Thursday afternoon at Cal State San Bernardino’s Peace Garden, which was built a year after the attack to honor the memory of the victims, as 18-year-old Callie Wetzel remembered her father , who was next to him. Fiance, grandparents and younger sister. She was only 12 years old at the time of her father’s death.
“This is a difficult time for all of us,” she said. “I’m visiting this monument for the first time and I was amazed at how respectfully it was done.”
The brief ceremony, which was also live-streamed via Zoom, began and ended with 14 rings of a bell to mark the memory of each victim.
Five of the 14 killed by Syed Rizwan Farooq and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were university graduates: Robert Adams (Public Health Education, 2011); Juan Espinoza (Biology, 2002); Shannon Johnson (Environmental Health Sciences, 2004); Yvette Velasco (Environmental Health Sciences, 2013); and Callie’s father, Michael Wetzel (Biology, 2001).
The university created tradition “so we will always have a special time and a special place to cherish his life which means so much to each and every one of us,” said Shastri Pantula, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.
Remembering the victims, he said, “Your life has touched many.” “Your service and passion were examples for us to emulate.”
In an emotional tribute, William Vandyke, a lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences and Human Ecology, said the departed are still remembered, loved and cherished.
“We can’t reach to give them a warm hug, but these lovely souls are with us every moment,” he said. “They are a part of the fabric that weaves us into every stitch of who we are. They are our inner voices that remind us to be open to new experiences and to doubt the worldly things. They guide us.” He shapes us and continues to bless us with his love.”
After the ceremony, family members and other attendees offered flowers at the base of the bell.
Yvette Velasco’s father, Robert Velasco, said that he and his wife, Marivel, have attended the ceremony held on campus every year.
“They never forget and that’s very touching for us,” he said. “We feel like it’s not only us who miss him, but all these other people.”
Walking around the campus also brings happy memories for the father, who remembers leaving his daughter when he didn’t have his own car.
“I still hear from some of her professors who remember her and talk about what kind of student she was,” he said. “It’s very special.”