Faith leaders, elected officials, and residents from across the Wyoming Valley sang hymns and united in prayer in observance of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The ceremony was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre.
Dr. Mahmoud Fahmy read the opening of the Quran in Arabic. Others recited Christian and Jewish scripture. The Rev. Phil Altivilla of St. Peter”s Cathedral in Scranton offered words of inspiration in his speech, “From Tragedy to Hope.”
Senator Baker offered the following remarks:
Many communities are holding memorial events to mark this 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These are emotional and heartfelt events, made more special by the inspiring presence of individuals directly affected on that day of tragedy. It is fitting to hold a service in a place of worship, for the strength of faith carried many through that dark day and the uncertain times that followed.
On this day, there are so many worth remembering. Those who died on the four hijacked aircraft. Those killed on the ground as a result of the deliberate crashes. Those who survived, but lost family, friends, co-workers. Those who courageously responded in the face of extreme peril. Those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, conflicts resulting from the terrorist attacks. Those among the community leaders and the clergy who helped in the healing process, with their messages of faith, love, and tolerance.
“Never forget” is a powerful phrase. We do have a solemn obligation to recall everything about 9/11 – the hatred behind the attacks, the quality and character of the nearly 3,000 who died that day, the courage of those who responded to an unimaginable emergency that turned catastrophic, the heartbreak of families and communities who never had a chance to say goodbye to precious loved ones, the sad circumstance of young children suddenly deprived of a parent.
There is an especially touching story that illustrates the significance of remembering. Jeremy Glick, one of the heroes on Flight 93, left behind an infant daughter. She has grown up hearing stories about her father. This year, her fourth grade class was assigned a project called My Hero. Because of what Jeremy Glick and the other passengers did that fateful day, because of what she has learned about him, she named her father as her hero.
The victims of 9/11 were heroes. So were the responders. So were those who contributed to recovery efforts. But there is heroic quality, too, in the survivors who struggled through the pain of loss, who have committed to keeping memories alive, who are providing guiding examples for all of us, who are instilling virtues and values such as this young girl shows.
Our sense of purpose should not end. Ever. We should never stop distilling lessons from the tragedy. Nor should we fall short in applying those lessons toward building a safer nation, a stronger democracy, and a better society.
Our nation has gotten away from the incredible unity of purpose that bound us in the weeks and months after 9/11. It sends a powerful message when people of different backgrounds and different faiths come together in common cause, as here today, as in every community observing 9/11. May we find in ourselves, may we find in those who lead us, the capacity to come together to strengthen America. So that we are the best we can be, in spirit and in grace, in our daily lives.
What we say, what we do, to remember the victims of 9/11, matters a great deal. The ultimate solace comes in the knowledge that the souls of those who perished that September day are safe in the keeping of a merciful God.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson