Chicago Tribune: `We're here today to always remember'

Time came to a standstill at 7:46 a.m. Monday on a busy block in downtown Chicago.

Outside Holy Name Cathedral, politicians stood silent, clergymen bowed their heads and passersby paused as a bell tolled from the cathedral’s steeple. Cars quietly hummed by without honking horns. Chirping birds and other typical sounds of the city seemed muted.

Exactly five years ago to the minute that a plane tore into the World Trade Center, Chicago remembered.

Across the region Monday, similar moments were seemingly frozen in time as steps both big and small were taken to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001.

At Holy Name Catholic Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared it a day of remembrance in Illinois.

Blagojevich, joined by Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, Comptroller Dan Hynes and 15 men in uniform–ranging from suburban police and fire personnel to state police and a man in military fatigues–called Sept. 11, 2001, as infamous as Dec. 7, 1941, the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

“We’re here today to always remember,” Blagojevich said.

Rev. Dan Mayall of Holy Name marked the anniversary by reading lyrics from “The Day America Cried,” a song written by Jim Peterik and Johnny Van Zant.

“And now we stand as one,” Mayall said. “As flags are raised to hail our heroes. … We join our hearts to remember all who have died. The day America cried.”

After the ceremony, Mayall led a solemn 8 a.m. mass for the politicians, public servants and about 75 other worshipers.

On Monday evening, as the sun set on a wet and dreary Chicago, scores of people from several faiths gathered in St. James Episcopal Cathedral downtown to remember the tragedy and pray for peace.

Inside the cavernous, dimly lighted church, a murmur of atmospheric music began the ceremony, reducing the attendees’ hushed whispers to silence. Then even the music stopped.

A procession of religious leaders, led by the choir and a 4-foot-tall lighted candle carried by a Christian clergyman, stepped down the church’s center aisle toward the sanctuary. They gathered on both sides of the massed choir, dressed in suits, clerical vestments and headscarves.

After an opening invocation and song, the religious leaders began their readings. First, Psalm 23 from the Hebrew Scriptures, in Hebrew and in English. Then, from the Christian Gospels, Matthew 5:43-47. Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations delivered the final readings, from the Koran.

“The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the all-merciful God,” he read, in Arabic and English. “Be merciful to those on Earth; God will be merciful to you in the heavens.”

In Libertyville, about 200 people took turns throughout the day standing silently in front of a school memorial.

Groups of four and five people spent half-hour shifts standing before the display in the lobby of Libertyville High School. The display consisted of two burning candles–one for each World Trade Center tower–a rose with a black ribbon tied around the stem and an American flag, said Stephanie Janczak, the school’s student body president.

The school also observed a moment of silence Monday morning, followed by a marching band’s patriotic anthems, a bugler and a gun salute.


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