Churches organize citywide 9/11 service

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 12, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY — Sunday’s “Ceremony of Remembrance” at Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel honored those who died on 9/11 with music and prayers for peace.
The mournful wail of a bagpipe echoed through the arches of the chapel, while a color guard of Salisbury Police Explorers slowly marched in.
The Rev. Jim Dunkin, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Salisbury, asked the company to honor “all who gave their lives in sacrifice, trying to save others,”
Local churches combined their efforts to put on the service at Catawba.
Dunkin said that the presence of God was bringing healing in the wake of the attacks.
“As I entered the chapel this afternoon, my eyes went to the cross high above,” he told the crowd.
Choir members from seven Rowan County churches joined a combined handbell choir to accompany the ceremony’s prayers and reflections
Under the direction of conductor Rick L. Smith, pianist Robert N. Halquist performed “The Testament of Freedom,” a cantata written in honor of Thomas Jefferson with lyrics taken from his writing.
Among the quotations: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.”
After, all assembled outside on the lawn where piper Dave McKenzie played “Amazing Grace.”
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Dept. honor guard fired three rifle volleys. The sound of the shots echoed across the green under a clear blue sky reminiscent of that terrifying morning a decade before.
Police Chief Rory Collins said that it was unfortunate that it took an event like 9/11 to unite Americans.
“But I’m pleased that we could take the time out of our day to remember,” Collins said.
Lt. Neal Goodman of the Sheriff’s Dept. honor guard said he knew that everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on 9/11 as the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania.
“It’s something that we’ll always remember, the feelings of sadness, disbelief and anger,” Goodman said.
“I think, for most of us, those same three emotions hold true today.”
Goodman said he was proud to be part of the ceremony.
Dunkin said that despite the sadness, Sunday was a day to unify the community. “To remind us of the great country that we love in where we have a freedom to gather.”
“If you don’t feel hope after being here this evening, then your ears were closed.”
For music director Rick Smith, who worked since the spring to plan the event, the ceremony was a day to remind Americans of their country’s nature.
“An understanding of who America is and why we are the country we are, why we believe in plurality, why we accept all cultures.”
“I hope they also take away a sense of peace, that we will fey all violence, and sooner or later, somehow, we will be a country of peace.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 794-797-4244.