'Embrace humanity and all that is good'
LIHUE, Kauai, SEPT 14 - Nearly 400 people went to the Performing Arts Center at Kaua'i Community College last night for prayer, music and readings in response to the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Before an all-denominational religious service that began at 6 p.m., clergymen from various faiths urged attendees to turn to God to find "guidance, calm and forgiveness."
While stopping short of demanding retaliatory action against the terrorists, some in the crowd called on Americans to "pull together" after Tuesday's tragedy.
Thousands of people are believed to have died after hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Residents sat on the edge of their seats when Abdul Senussi, a Muslim living on Kaua'i, asked them to understand that Muslims are an integral part of American society, includingworking as doctors and lawyers.
Senussi said the terrorism was an "attack on all of us as Americans." He urged prayers for the victims and their families.
Jeanette Cantotay of Lawa'i said Kauaians need to pull together in their
support for America as they did for their own island after the devastation
wrought by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
Frank Panacci, a visitor from San Francisco and a World War II Navy veteran who fought in the Pacific, said he attended the service to show his "support for the nation."
Kaua'i County Mayor Maryanne Kusaka said terrorism "is no longer something we can talk about in a political, philosophical or strategic sense. Terrorism is real. It is real. It is scary. It is ugly."
She said that "we can never understand the mind of the terrorist. It is as foreign to us as the images on television that we see."
Kusaka said that the "best we can hope to do, thorough this terrible tragedy, is to better understand ourselves" and "embrace humanity and all that is good in the world."
Richard "Peachy" Sheldon, a former deputy chief of the Kaua'i County Police Department, attended the service with his wife, Jeannie. He said it shouldn't be used as a political tool to condemn the perpetrators of the terrorism. Honoring the victims should be the first order of business, he said.
"For now, it is important that we reflect on the families who have lost loved ones," Sheldon said.
During the service, some people cried and their voices quivered as they sang the national anthem, accompanied by the Kauai Community College Brass Ensemble.
Prayers were offered by the Rev. Richard Kamanu of Kapa'a First Hawaiian United Church of Christ, the Rev. Earl Ikeda of West Kaua'i Hongwanji and Glen T. Hale of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Other service leaders were Sara Silverman of the Jewish community on Kaua'i, Father Chris Keahi of Holy Cross Church, Bodinathaswami of the Saiva Siddhanta Church and members of the Bahai community on Kaua'i.
The service ended with the singing of "America the Beautiful."
In their honor
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