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A day of remembrance

Utahns pause on 9/11 in a salute to all who died

Sara Whipperman, right, and other Evergreen Junior High students hold flags as names of fallen soldiers from Enduring Freedom are read at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
Sara Whipperman, right, and other Evergreen Junior High students hold flags as names of fallen soldiers from Enduring Freedom are read at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

The second anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States was a day for Utahns to honor the thousands who died on 9/11 and in the nation's ongoing war against terrorism.

They gathered in a variety of places, including schools, places of worship, parks, shopping malls, downtown streets and a Sandy field to reflect on what was lost when four hijacked airliners crashed into sites in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C..

At the Khadeeja Islamic Center, a variety of Wasatch Front religious leaders called for peace and greater mutual understanding in the wake of 9/11.

Imam Shuaib-ud Din said at first the Muslim community had considered having a prayer service of its own to mark the anniversary. But "we decided it wouldn't be complete without all of you."

The service also included clergy from Bahai, Christian Science, Methodist, Jewish, Unitarian, United Church of Christ, Buddhist, Gnostic and Episcopal faiths, in addition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Speakers emphasized both the human and the spiritual connections that bind all people as "brothers and sisters" who must learn to let love trump hate and peace overcome pride. Several offered prayers asking God to heal hearts, soften souls and forgive all who hold a grudge against those who differ from themselves.

"Spread the light of acceptance we feel here today to our neighbors, through the churches, the cities and the states of our nation," prayed Masood Ul-Hasan of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake.

At Taylorsville High School, Margaret Wahlstrom, the Utah PTA individual development commissioner and a relative of two 9/11 victims, visited with schoolchildren and spoke of her family's loss.

"Our family gets asked a lot about how we cope with things . . . how we cope with the pain and agony that come every Sept. 11," said Wahlstrom, who lost her mother-in-law, Mary Alice Wahlstrom of Kaysville, and sister-in-law, Carolyn Beug of Los Angeles, on the American Airlines plane that was the first airliner to crash that day in New York.

One thing that helps her, she said, is "to see these kids and their faces" filled with love and kindness. Another is that the family has decided to mark the anniversary of the attacks by being of service to others.

Among the other events commemorating 9/11:

A large bell outside of the Utah Firefighters Museum in Tooele tolled 343 times Thursday, each chime a solemn reminder of the "ultimate sacrifice" made by fallen heroes from the New York Fire Department on Sept. 11, 2001.

"They ran into the burning building and not out of the burning building. They ran up the stairs and not down. They went into it and not out of it. They didn't flee, they charged," said Brent Marshall, president of the Utah State Fireman's Association, sharing his thoughts with dozens of citizens and uniformed public service officers from various agencies.

"A lot of memories. A lot of heartache. A lot of tears," Marshall said in emotional and hushed tones. "It's a day of remembrance for our fallen brethren."

To help keep the memory fresh, the museum unveiled a support banner — with the message "God Bless Our Heroes and Victims Lost" in big, black letters — that the 62 members of Utah Task Force One took with them and displayed while doing search-and-rescue work in the ground zero rubble.

The museum also received a miniature replica statue of the three flag-bearing firefighters who raised the Stars and Stripes at ground zero. The sculptor, Stan Watts of Salt Lake City, is making a larger-than-life statue that will be placed at the World Trade Center memorial site.

It was standing room only Thursday morning at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics for a talk on the lessons learned from 9/11 given by Omar Kader, a former Brigham Young University professor.

Kader, a management consultant and an expert on the Middle East, told the 150 students in attendance that the United States needs to make some changes in its approach to the war on terrorism.

"One of the great mistakes we make in this country is to assume retribution for a terrorist incident is the most logical thing to do," he said. "I'm not convinced the 9/11 perpetrators had in mind just to bring down the World Trade Center. I'm convinced their aim was to engage us and to rally the Muslim world against us . . . to suck us into battle. And they have succeeded."

He was especially critical of the FBI, labeling it a failed organization that "is probably a victim and a cause of a lot of the suffering that Americans are going through right now." Several times, he cautioned his audience to "never trade your civil liberties for security."

An estimated 50,000 people on Thursday visited the 3,412 American flags that make up the "healing field" south of Sandy City Hall, according to a spokeswoman for Colonial Flag, the event sponsor.

While some visitors drove by slowly in their cars, most took time to walk among the flags representing the lives lost on 9/11 and in the war on terrorism. Camille Chavez, here on business from Mesa, Ariz., started to cry as she described her experience.

"It really makes you touch it, thinking every single flag here was a person. It's just very moving," Chavez said. "It does bring it home. The impact really hits you, walking through here."

The display, which is free to the public, will remain up through 6 p.m. Monday.

About 100 staff and patients gathered for a half-hour remembrance midday Thursday in the Veterans Administration Hospital garden.

"It was just a very somber event," hospital spokeswoman Susan Huff said.

She said that participants heard from Naval Reserve Capt. Doug Hinson, a doctor who had just returned from duty overseas. Hinson and two other veterans rang a military bell 24 times to honor to the victims of 9/11.

It just seemed so appropriate," she said.

A memorial in City Creek Park organized by peace activists ended at sunset with the release of lighted luminarias bearing the names of those killed as a result of 9/11 and in the war against terrorism.

"I just wanted to grieve and be with other members of the community," Linda Nowlin of Salt Lake City said. "I wanted to share it with our kids." She and her family lit luminarias bearing the names of an Afghani father, mother and four children who died in the war.

"I started to feel closer to everyone," Emily Pilger, 10, said as the bags glowed softly on the water.


Contributing: Contributing: Joe Bauman, Jody Genessy, Josh Loftin, Carrie Moore, Lisa Riley Roche