DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On the 11th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, some memorials were different this year.
Only 300 people gathered at the site of the World Trade Center in New York; politicians didn’t speak, either. And ceremonies at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania were more subdued as well.
At the 8th annual Unity Day USA service in Dallas, about 100 people gathered to celebrate one thing that united us that terrible day: that Americans of all faiths and backgrounds are still Americans.
America Together Founder, and Master of Ceremonies, Mike Ghouse explains the importance of tolerance. “9-11 is gone, Osama is dead and I’m glad he is gone. It brought us a relief to the world and that is the relief we need to celebrate that we—it’s time for us to heal.”
He is also lobbying for a federal law to honor the date “Where we can proclaim this as a national day where Americans can come together to celebrate unity and also rededicate our pledge for the safety and security of all nations.”
The Unity Day USA service honored the Sikh faith in the aftermath of massacre in Wisconsin this year; also honored, Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are donating 11,000 pints of blood as a September 11th remembrance.
Sam Madden, a Christian, explains why he brought his 13-year-old daughter, Mary. “The theme of Unity Day, of bringing different faiths together, and educating my daughter that we’re all God’s children,” according to Madden, who adds, “Jesus would have love for all mankind and I try to teach her that.” Daughter Mary is just 13 but has definite thoughts on 9-11. “Back then we used to be far away; now it seems closer since it happened.”
“Always, anniversaries are very difficult” said Peter Stewart of the Thanksgiving Square Foundation in Dallas, “because peoples’ memories are fastened on the moment.” He adds, “I think the memory needs to be kept fresh.”
At the newly-opened Veterans Resource Center in Oak Cliff, the flame of remembrance still burns very brightly for the men and women who served. “I think they’re very important because it keeps it on the mind of the people,” said Kennard Bowlen, a retired U.S Air Force veteran.
“We cry about it.” Adds Delbert Ford, who was among some 200 veterans and volunteers commemorating the day. His niece just missed being aboard one of those fateful flights. Also a Christian, he nonetheless believes vigilance is necessary. “I pray to our God in heaven that nothing like that ever happens again but I also hope that we’ll be strong and be able to stand up.” And to remember going forward, he says.