“Programs Commemorate September 11,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 69–70
It was a blustery, gray day in New York City as thousands gathered at ground zero to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Similar groups gathered at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., in a field in Pennsylvania, and in services around the world. Church leaders and members joined in honoring the victims and survivors of a day that, according to President James E. Faust, “changed forever the way we live our lives.”
People thronged Temple Square in Salt Lake City to remember the events of September 11 in a noontime service. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the meeting, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Quorums of the Seventy, and the general auxiliary presidencies were present for the service. President Gordon B. Hinckley was out of the country.
Calling the attacks a “pernicious assault” and “an evil conspiracy,” President Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the congregation. “The greatest tragedy of it all was the loss of human life. All were innocent. Over 2,800 were killed with malice aforethought. The death of even one person among our citizenry is incalculable.”
President Faust reminded listeners that the United States is a blessed land, and with those blessings come responsibilities. “God Almighty established this land,” he said. “He raised up giants among men as our founding fathers. They acted for us, ‘the people,’ who were and who remain sovereign. The motto stamped on our coins, ‘In God We Trust,’ must also be stamped in our hearts and minds.”
The Tabernacle Choir provided several musical selections, including arrangements of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” Emotions were tender in the congregation as the choir concluded with “America the Beautiful.”
Earlier that day President Monson spoke at a community interfaith gathering in Salt Lake City along with other community leaders of Christian, Islamic, and Jewish faiths. He counseled listeners to remember those who died, those who survived, and those who worked tirelessly after the attacks. He also highlighted the role faith has played in the aftermath of the attacks.
“Amidst the fear, the sorrow, the pain, and the suffering, a mighty miracle occurred—a fusion of faith, even a pattern of prayer—as Americans turned not to dial 911 but rather dropped to their knees and looked heavenward to God for help,” President Monson said.
In Washington, D.C., David Glen Hatch performed two concerts of his work Let Freedom Ring. Invited guest performers included the Washington D.C. Mormon Choir and the Southern Virginia University Orchestra as well as soloists Erika Hogge, Liz Smith, and David Benson.
Two members of the Church perished in the attack in Washington, D.C. Brady Howell and Rhonda Rasmussen were at work at the Pentagon when an aircraft collided with the building. Along with four other victims at the Pentagon, Sister Rasmussen’s remains were never identified, and she was honored in a special ceremony held by the military at Arlington National Cemetery on 12 September. There the military buried all human remains that could not be identified.
Brother Howell’s widow, parents, and siblings attended a national memorial service at the Pentagon on 11 September. Brother Howell’s alma mater, Syracuse University, also created the Brady Howell Community Service Initiative in his honor “as a means of not only remembering this outstanding American, but as a way of continuing his dedicated service to community and country,” according to the university’s Web site.
The New York New York Stake sponsored a memorial fireside on 8 September. Stake president Brent J. Belnap offered remarks, and various musical selections focused on the Atonement and the redemptive power of the Savior. The stake also opened all three of its buildings on 11 September at the request of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He asked that all religious edifices be open to the public that day. The stake center carried the broadcast of the Church’s remembrance service held in Salt Lake City as well as rebroadcasts of last year’s memorial service.
The New York New York Stake also issued a statement thanking members of the Church for their outpouring of support during the past year:
“We express our heartfelt gratitude to literally thousands of Church members around the world who so generously contributed of themselves following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. …
“Your example of Christlike love and service has blessed many lives. We unite with you in expressing our faith and hope in a loving Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Three members of the Church died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Ivhan Luis Carpio was at work on the 107th floor of One World Trade Center that day; Mary Alice Wahlstrom and her daughter Carolyn Meyer-Beug were onboard the first plane to strike the World Trade Center.
Sister Wahlstrom’s son Norman and grandson Nate of the Kaysville 17th Ward, Kaysville Utah East Stake, attended the service held at ground zero. “I’m glad I came,” said Nate Wahlstrom in an interview with Deseret News, “because it is a time to reflect on the lives of my grandmother and my aunt. … Now we’ll be able to take back what we saw here to our family. … It looks almost like a cemetery, … like sacred ground.”
At a ceremony in Kaysville, Utah, on 11 September, community members broke ground for a monument park honoring Sister Wahlstrom, Sister Meyer-Beug, and Brother Howell, all of whom had ties to the community.