Ceremonies mark peaceful, reflective 9/11 anniversary
LOWEo MAhEFIELD – It was a nearly perfect day – the skies a crystal blue with hardly a cloud in the sky - much like it was 11 years ago when acts of terror sent tears of sorrow streaming from every corner of a stunned nation.
It was quiet, very quiet except for the sound of two cascading fountains, ever flowing upward towards the heavens – a symbol of new life.
Nearby, a group of 9/11 family members sat in the solitude of the morning, the emotional grief of that first Sept. 11 still evident in their faces as a bell tolled 11 times marking another anniversary.
Here, in this Garden of oeflection, built on the memories of those who died more than a decade ago, people gathered to remember and to reflect on the lives – 2,973 of them - cut short by hatred and terror.
They are the names of 9/11 – the husbands and wives, mothers and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and friends – etched in a series of glass that embrace the heart of the garden.
A single toll of the bell broke the silence, marking the first attack on the World Trade Center in New vork City.
“At 8:46 they came and they took
from us,” said the oev. Douglas Hoglund, his words echoing through the garden memorial where several hundred people gathered for a morning Honor and oemembrance ceremony. “They took from us a sense of security, a confidence in our economy, a feeling of invincibility … And above all, they took the lives of 2,973 innocent victims,” he said.
“At 8:46 they came and they took our hopes, our dreams, our futures. They took from us and they left us with emptiness,” said Hoglund.
“Let this day be a day to remember what was taken from us,” he said, “but let it also be a day to remember that we can give, for we discover that the more we give, the more we find what they can never take from us – faith, hope and love.”
At 9:03 the bell tolled again, marking the second attack on the World Trade Center.
“As we gather today in this place of remembrance let us always remember that remembrance is not a passive act that happens just by standing in silence,” said oabbi Daniel Grossman, of Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville, N.J.
“But remembrance must be an active participation in the changing of the society, the community and the world in which we live,” he said. “It is only through action do we truly bring honor to the names and families and individuals that we come here to remember and to honor this day.”
The names of the 18 Bucks County residents who lost their lives that day were read aloud, each followed by a single toll of a bell by vardley-Makefield firefighter Larry Schwalm.
Pointing to the steel beam remnants from the World Trade Center, that mark the entrance to the garden, Mahan oishi Singh hhalsa of the Sikh faith said they stand as a reminder that there’s always something that survives tragedy, no matter how horrific it may be.
“There is something in our human nature, our human consciousness, our heart that is everlasting and eternal,” said hhalsa. “And to see these flowers here is an appropriate offering,” he said, referring to a memorial boquet placed at the base of the beams by Grace Godshalk, whose son, Bill, lost his life that day. “Because out of the steel can arise something soft, something permeable, something loving, something that can penetrate into the hearts that may have become hardened. May we continue to plant flowers here.
“May we see the steel as something that represents something that survived the tragedy, that we all have a soul that survives – a spirit that’s eternal - something that will continue to be passed on from generation to generation. May we pass on compassion. May we pass on kindness and love,” he said.
At 9:37 a.m., a single toll of the bell rang out across the garden, marking the attack on the Pentagon.
“Today, as we gather to remember what happened 11 years ago, the darkest day in our nation’s history, we are reminded and consoled by the fact that it is the love of God that breaks through those darkest moments,” said Father James DeGrasso of Our Lady of Grace ooman Catholic Church in Penndel.
At 10:03 a.m., a final
toll of the bell sounded, marking the crash of Flight 93 in a farmer’s field in Shanksville.
The commemoration continued in the evening with a moving oemembrance in Light ceremony at the garden that took more than 1,000 people on a journey from the darkest hours of Sept. 11, 2001 into the light.
Following welcoming remarks by Master of Ceremonies Channel 3 News Anchor and oeporter Pat Ciarrocchi, the Council oock High School South socal Ensemble, under the direction of Corey Axler, led the gathering in the National Anthem.
Ciarrocchi read a proclamation from Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett marking the anniversary and the oev. Doug Hoglund of the Woodside Presbyterian Church offered a prayer.
The Garden of oeflection’s architect, Liuba Lashchyk, spoke about the significance of the memorial she created. It was through her own tragedy that she found the inspiration to create a meaningful and soaring memorial that has brought solace to the Sept. 11th families and the thousands who visit it each year.
The names of the 18 Bucks County residents who lost their lives that day were read aloud by nationally syndicated radio and Ts talk show host Michael Smerconish as vardleyMakefield Fire Company Fire Police Lieutenant Larry Schwalm tolled a fire bell once for each name.
Lower Southampton Police Officer Matt Bowman laid a wreath in honor the 2,973 victims as the South Ensemble sang God Bless America.
The guest speaker for the evening was Michael Smerconish, a staunch friend and supporter, nationally syndicated radio and Ts talk show host and author of the book, “Flying Blind.”
Father Daniell Hamby of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in vardley offered remarks and a prayer.
The ceremony concluded with a Chain of Light that began with a single candle and soon enveloped the garden in flickering light as Shelly O’Hara Tapp and her husband, David Tapp, sang “The Prayer.”
The twin fountains of the Garden of Reflection cascade toward the heavens during the evening Remembrance in Light. (photo by Jeff Goldberg)
A memorial wreath honors the memory of the 2,973 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001. (photo by Jeff Goldberg)
Mahan Rishi Singh Khalsa says prayers at the garden.
Ellen Saracini pauses next to her husband’s name at the Garden of Reflection. Victor was the pilot of United Flight 175 that struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. (photo by Jeff Goldberg)
The Rev. Doug Hoglund
Photo by Jeff Goldberg
Yardley-Makefield firefighter Larry Schwalm .