Local events mark 9/11

By Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat September 11, 2012 11:18 am

It’s been 11 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And while there won’t be the same number of large local ceremonies or remembrances as last year’s 10th anniversary, some Mother Lode organizations are still holding memorials to remember the fateful day.

“We should remember this day, and honor this day always,” said Faye McBride, who is part of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Thom Jenkins VFW Post. “I think it would be no different than if we were doing something for Veterans Day.”


McBride’s organization is putting together a ceremony at 7 p.m. tonight in the Coulterville Park, where local leaders will speak and participants will hold a candlelight procession to the VFW post.

“It’s to address 9/11 and all of the people we’ve lost since,” she said, referring to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eleven years ago, 2,792 people were killed when four commercial jets were hijacked in the largest terrorist attack in the country’s history. Two of the planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center leading to the buildings’ collapse. A third crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in rural farmland in Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of local residents observed the 10-year anniversary. One event took place at Twain Harte Lake, while a second filled the John Muir building at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds. Organized by the Tuolumne County Ministerial Association, the emotional event featured music and speeches remembering the tragedy.

Jay Wynn, a pastor at Rivers of Life Christian Fellowship and president of the ministerial association, said this year they opted not to organize a large event so local congregations and organizations can commemorate the day independently.

He said it’s important to recognize the tragedy for the people who lost loved ones.

“We need to pray for them,” Wynn said. “One thing that we do not want is to forget.”

Jay Grimstead is looking to remember through prayer, as he organized a multi-church ceremony for noon today in Angels Camp’s Utica Park.

He’s the local and state coordinator for a religious group called Cry Out America, which encourages communities to organize Sept. 11 memorials around the country.

This is the first local one, and Grimstead said pastors from Calaveras and Tuolumne counties will participate. The service will include patriotic music, scripture reading and prayer for the future of the country.

“It’s, No. 1, a commemoration of what went on (Sept. 11),” he said. “It’s really kind of an effort to remind Christians to pray for America.”

At the national level, organizers of the Sept. 11 ceremony at Ground Zero hope to pull any politics out of the event. For the first time, elected officials won’t speak Tuesday at an occasion that has allowed them a solemn turn in the spotlight.

The change was made in the name of sidelining politics, but some have rapped it as a political move in itself. It’s a sign of the entrenched sensitivity of the politics of Sept. 11, even after a decade of commemorating the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. From the first anniversary in 2002, the date has been limned with questions about how — or even whether — to try to separate the 9/11 that is about personal loss from the 9/11 that reverberates through public life.

Officeholders from the mayor to presidents have been heard at the New York ceremony, reading texts ranging from parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address to poems by John Donne and Langston Hughes. But in July, the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum — led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as its board chairman — announced that this year’s version would include only relatives reading victims’ names.

Politicians still may attend. The point, memorial President Joe Daniels said, was ‘‘honoring the victims and their families in a way free of politics’’ in an election year.

‘‘You always want to change,’’ Bloomberg said in a radio interview in July, ‘‘... and I think it’ll be very moving.’’