Tacoma remembers the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

Editor’s Note: Technology columnist Dana Greenlee, whose column normally appears here every Friday, is still on vacation in Washington, D.C. Her column is set to return next Friday, Sept. 19.

Like Americans all across the nation, Tacomans took time Thursday to remember the worst terrorist attacks in the nation’s history.

One of the major commemorations in Tacoma was “9.11: A Day of Reflection,” sponsored by Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County and partnership between Pierce County, the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum.

Light precipitation forced the movement of the opening ceremonies – which began shortly after noon – from the Museum of Glass’ lower-level reflecting pool to the museum’s theater.

Government officials and others turned out to offer words of consolation and hope for the future, remembering some 3,000 people who were killed in the strikes against the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the highjacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Each person reacted differently to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, said master of ceremonies Maureen Fife, Associated Ministries deputy director.

Amir Abdul-Matin, an imam at Hilltop’s Mas’alah Muslim Center offered an opening prayer, and Tacoma School of the Arts student Georgia Davis sang “Lullaby.”

“It’s incredible to think of the power of our memories,” remarked Mayor Bill Baarsma. “So, today is about remembering.”

He compared the horror of that day to other tragic events that some in the audience remembered, such as the assasination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

Baarsma said he also saw how people helped one another in the aftermath of the attacks, and those are some positive memories – like man walking on the moon in 1969 and the Seattle Sonics winning the NBA title in 1979 – that will stay with him.

“It’s that goodness I want to remember,” he said.

Pierce County Executive John Laden-burg also remembered the sorrow created on that Tuesday morning two years ago.

He pointed to the poster on the podium from which he was speaking. The poster resembled a vertically-hanging American flag, with “9.11” in the upper left corner where the blue field of stars would appear. The stripes were, in fact, made up of the names of those who perished in the attacks.

“This isn’t just a day to remember – it’s a day of hope and reflection,” he said. “There has to be action to make that happen.”

And yet the grieving and healing continue.

“So, the work of the Red Cross continues with those families,” said Carrie Cirrito, executive director of the Mount Rainier chapter of the Red Cross, referring to ongoing efforts in New York City.

Following the speeches, a procession of local religious leaders representing various faiths – Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, Unitarian and Christian – took prayer poles to Tacoma’s other museums.

The prayer poles contained ribbons symbolizing those who were killed in the terrorist attacks. Visitors to the museums were invited to affix a ribbon to the prayer poles in remembrance of those who died.

A variety of events were offered throughout the rest of the day, including performances by a quartet at the Tacoma School of the Arts at the Tacoma Art Museum, a talk at the Washington State History Museum, a poetry reading at the Museum of Glass and a closing ceremony at the Washington State History Museum.

Other commemorations were held in Tacoma, including an all-day prayer rally at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall, and several other locations throughout the South Sound.

Earlier that day, on the corner of North 12th and I streets, a statue showing Marvin Klegman just before he sacrificed his life while saving Kelcy Robert Allen was unveiled. The 11-year-old Klegman, a safety patrol boy at Lowell Elementary School, was killed during the earthquake on April 13, 1949, while grabbing 6-year-old Kelcy’s hand and rushing him out of the building – another hero remembered on Sept. 11.