“Church Offers Consolation, Humanitarian Aid after Attacks,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 109–10
Church leaders offered messages of peace and consolation following terrorist attacks on 11 September in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Five Latter-day Saints are known to have lost their lives in the attacks.
Carolyn Meyer-Beug, 48, a member of the Santa Monica Second Ward, Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, and her mother, Mary Alice Wahlstrom, 75, of the Kaysville 17th Ward, Kaysville Utah East Stake, were on board the first plane that struck the World Trade Center. The two women were returning home from dropping off Sister Beug’s twin daughters for their freshman year of college.
Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista, 24, of the Richmond Hill Third Branch, Richmond Hill New York District, was working at the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of One World Trade Center when the attacks occurred. He had planned to take 11 September off because it was his birthday but agreed to cover a coworker’s shift instead.
Brady Howell, 26, a member of the Crystal City Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, and Rhonda Rasmussen, 44, Lake Ridge Second Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, died in the attack on the Pentagon in Washington. Brother Howell was working as a civilian employee for the U.S. Navy. Sister Rasmussen was working as a budget analyst for the Department of the Army. Her husband of 26 years was also working in the building but was unharmed.
Shortly after hearing of the attacks, the First Presidency released a statement expressing “profound sympathy to those whose loved ones, friends and associates were lost or injured in today’s senseless acts of violence. We offer our prayers in behalf of the innocent victims of these vicious attacks. We ask our Heavenly Father to guide [U.S.] President [George W.] Bush and his advisors as they respond to these devastating incidents.
“We join with others in prayers that the Savior’s peace and love will comfort and guide us all through this difficult time.”
On the evening of 11 September, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a previously scheduled Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert that was turned into a memorial service. “Dark as is this hour,” said the Church President, “there is shining through the heavy overcast of fear and anger the solemn and wonderful image of the Son of God. It is to Him that we look in these circumstances.”
President Hinckley offered similar messages of faith and comfort when he appeared both on CNN’s Larry King Live and in a memorial service in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on 14 September, a day declared as a national day of prayer and remembrance by President Bush. “We cannot call back the dead,” said President Hinckley, but we can “call upon our Heavenly Father to bring comfort and solace to those who have suffered much.” He also expressed hope that Heavenly Father would hasten the day when men would beat their swords into plowshares and “learn war no more” (see Isa. 2:4). Also participating in this memorial service were members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, other General Authorities, and the Tabernacle Choir. The service was broadcast to Church meetinghouses throughout the U.S.
On 20 September, President Hinckley and 26 other religious leaders met with President Bush in the White House at the U.S. President’s invitation. “I have never felt stronger,” President Bush said, “and that strength comes from God.” He asked that people pray for the safety of the nation and that he would be blessed with wisdom, strength, and clarity of thought.
When President Bush asked for input from those assembled, President Hinckley stated, “I just want you to know, Mr. President, that we are behind you. We pray for you. We love this ‘nation under God.’”
At the request of the First Presidency, special memorial sacrament meeting services were held in Church units throughout the U.S. on Sunday, 16 September. Throughout the country, members of the Church reached out in love and service to those who had lost loved ones. Many members opened their homes and meetinghouses to those left stranded in New York and at various airports.
Humanitarian relief funds donated to the American Red Cross by the Church were used largely to assist with search and rescue work, emergency food and shelter, and other needs. The Red Cross’s Salt Lake City chapter used part of the money to offset its costs in helping stranded travelers in Salt Lake City obtain food and shelter. LDS Family Services counselors worked with community agencies that are directly assisting those in the New York area who were traumatized by the attacks.
On 9 October the First Presidency approved the distribution of thousands of pounds of blankets, hygiene kits, medical supplies, and newborn kits to Afghan refugees.