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Unflagging unity: Utahns come together across the state to remember 9-11 victims and those fallen in war

Above, a healing field containing 3,412 American flags -- one for every life lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- south of Sandy City Hall was a place of reflection for many Utahns on Thursday. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune) Below, Colin Heath, 8, takes a break from helping remove luminarias from the water at City Creek Park in Salt Lake City where People for Peace and Justice and Utah Code Pink Women for Peace released the floating lanterns with the names of victims of the terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune)

By Thomas Burr
The Salt Lake Tribune

    Two years after the attacks on America, Utahns paused to mourn those who perished, herald those who saved and honor those still fighting.
    Patriotic symbols dotted lawns and peppered speeches in events statewide on Thursday, the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Candles were lit, trees planted, flags lowered and prayers offered.
    "There's a lot of memories, a lot of heartache and a lot of tears," said Grantsville Fire Capt. Brent Marshall before colleagues tolled a bell 343 times, one for each of their fallen New York City counterparts. "I hope we never have to go through this again."
    More than 100 people -- mostly firefighters in dress uniform with black ribbons over their badges -- watched as a banner carried by Utah Task Force One to Ground Zero received a permanent home at the Utah Firefighters Museum in Tooele. "Never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in their call to duty," said Marshall, president of the Utah Firemen's Association.
    Emotions ran high in Sandy as hundreds strolled through a field of 3,412 American flags -- representing every life lost in the attacks.
    "It's overwhelming. Those are all people," said Jim Kearl, waving his hand at the sea of flags, which hung limp in the chilly air. Although Kearl hobbled on a cane, he and Barbara, his wife of 47 years, circled the entire field on foot, as if to bear witness to each and every victim.
    "I don't know if you ever can grasp [the Sept. 11 death toll]," Jim Kearl said. "But this is about as close as I've come."
    Nearby, 426 flags flew for each U.S. and British soldier killed since Sept. 11, 2001, in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    "We call it the Healing Field because people can walk through and cry and get it all out," said Paul Swenson, owner of Sandy-based Colonial Flag, which supplied the banners and vows to plant them each year that Sandy officials allow.
    More star-spangled banners fluttered in the breeze in Lehi, paying homage to soldiers killed while fighting the war on terrorism.
    "Sept. 11 changed the world as we knew it," said Capt. Harold Clements, commander of the U.S. Army Reserve's 889th Transportation Detachment. "The soldiers of our armed forces are still fighting for our freedom . . . and we should be mindful of what that freedom is all about."
    The anniversary of terror attacks was poignant for Salt Lake City resident Shareen Craythorn. Her husband, Lynn, is an Army Reservist pulling an extended tour in the Middle East.
    "This is a day for remembering our fallen soldiers and to make our nation aware of their sacrifice," Craythorn said. "At the same time, it is a time to take joy in the freedoms we have because of our soldiers."
    Remembering the lost: At the Utah Police Academy, where anti-terrorism training is part of the curriculum, more than 300 people watched a 21-gun salute for the 60 police officers killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. Bagpipers played "Amazing Grace" as cadets raised, then lowered the Stars and Stripes.
    "We remember today because through remembrance, we strengthen our resolve," said Utah Highway Patrol Lt. James Maguire, who served in Afghanistan as an Army sergeant. "The terrorists are counting on the weakening of American resolve. But what our enemies have begun, we will finish."
    At a vigil in front of the Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City, hundreds promoted the opposite. They protested hostilities and then marched silently to Memory Grove in City Creek Park where they lit luminarias and floated them. "God Bless the World -- No Exceptions" read one sign.
    The faces Thursday were familiar but the message was slightly different at what has become a weekly peace vigil, a staple on State Street since Sept. 11, 2001. Protests against war mingled with words of remembrance for those who died in the World Trade Center attacks and for soldiers on both sides of the war in Iraq.
    Across the Salt Lake Valley, religious leaders and worshipers from a dozen faiths -- including Baha'i, Methodist, Episcopal, Buddhist, Jewish and Gnostic -- prayed together for peace and unity at the evening interfaith service hosted by The Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake. Outside the mosque, the American flag flew at half staff.
    "There is a big difference in feeling this year," said Masood al-Hasnan, who said the mosque was filled with Muslims last year. "This year, we wanted to invite the whole community."
    Everyone bared their feet and the women covered their heads as prayers were offered in all traditions. Rabbi Tracee Rosen from Congregation Kol Ami sang Psalm 121 in Hebrew. Elder Bruce Porter of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quoted from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
    "The attack two years ago was not just on Americans, but on people from 40 countries and dozens of faiths," he said. "But that attack failed. It failed to destroy the love between God's children."
    Permanent reminders: In southern Utah's Parowan, residents gathered at the town flagpole for a short noontime ceremony. At Utah State University in Logan, more than 700 students pledged to work 31,737 hours serving their community -- 10 times the goal of the student group United Campus Volunteers. Nearly 100 students penned letters to soldiers serving abroad.
    Later Thursday, observers at the West Valley City Community Garden of Peace planted about two dozen trees in honor of 9-11 victims, and members of seven different churches read in unison a prayer to end world hostilities.
    "Bless the people and leaders of this nation and all nations so that warfare, like slavery before it, may become only a historic memory," they said.
    While ceremonies played out elsewhere, it was mostly a routine day at Salt Lake City International Airport. Passengers waiting to board planes watched TV news coverage of the day's events nationwide. Few, however, were nervous.
    "It's probably one of the better days to fly," said Maryellen Brisson, who was returning to her home in Los Angeles. "I didn't even think a second about rebooking it."
   -- Tribune reporters Mark Eddington, Brandon Griggs, Karyn Hsiao and Mary Brown Malouf contributed to this story.

©Copyright 2003, The Salt Lake Tribune (UT, USA)

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