9-11 ceremony to focus on the real meaning of the day | PostIndependent.com

9-11 ceremony to focus on the real meaning of the day

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

Although a newspaper advertisement announcing a Sept. 11 memorial service tonight seemed to some to carry an inappropriate political message, event speakers are focusing on honoring those who died two years ago today in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in Pennsylvania.

Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig and Lauren Martin, pastor at the Glenwood Mennonite Church, will be two of five community and spiritual leaders who will speak at 6:30 p.m. tonight, honoring the victims of Sept. 11 at Sopris Park in Carbondale.

“I’ll be leading the prayer of St. Francis,” said Martin. “It’s a prayer for peace.”

“I’m still grappling with the extraordinary tragedy of Sept. 11,” said Hassig on Wednesday afternoon. “I was asked to speak, not to endorse or render an opinion. I’ll likely focus on the sacrifices and the losses of 9-11 and then address the question of how we, as the living, are to carry on. That’s the challenge at services of remembrances.”

For Hassig and Martin, the gathering is for remembering those who lost their lives two years ago, even though a full-page newspaper advertisement placed by event organizers last week generated some criticism for linking the national tragedy to a political agenda.

The advertisement, which listed nearly 70 names of people who paid for the ad, stated that those who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 over Pennsylvania were not the only victims of Sept. 11.

Also listed were the numbers of U.S. and Coalition soldiers killed in Afghanistan (74), Iraqi soldiers (30,000) and Iraqi civilians (37,137) killed in the Iraq war, in addition to the “United States Constitution,” the “budget deficit” and “the truth.”

Event organizer Calvin Lee of Carbondale stands by the advertisement. Lee is part of the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition, a group formed in 2002 by locals in response to the current administration’s war on terrorism.

“The ad was meant to be hard-hitting and informative,” Lee said. “We want to impress upon people that victims are increasing on a daily basis.”

This is the second year the group has organized a ceremony on Sept. 11.

“Last year was the first anniversary of 9-11,” he said. “We had a ceremony on that date to remember and honor victims. Now two years have gone by. We’ve changed the theme of the ceremony to honor all the victims of war. In two years, there’s been a huge amount of death – both American and Iraqi soldiers. It seemed fitting to have a ceremony for all the dead.”

Still, Mayor Hassig isn’t sure where the line is drawn between honoring and remembering – and capitalizing on tragedy.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the real meaning behind the day,” Hassig said, who, along with Martin, never saw the ad before it was printed in the newspaper.

Glenwood City Councilwoman Jean Martensen’s name was included in the ad for the ceremony – but she won’t be there.

“I have a scheduling conflict, and I have to be at a budget hearing during the event, which is unfortunate,” she said. “But it doesn’t seem appropriate that Bush was criticized in the ad. I didn’t see it before it was printed. I thought Bush did very well during the 9-11 chaos, even if I’m not in favor of what he’s doing now. It just seemed inappropriate.”

Pastor Martin said he’s going to concentrate on a message of peace during the ceremony.

“Calvin asked me to lead a prayer and I said `yes,'” Martin said. “Some people from my own church questioned the Bush-bashing nature of the ad, and that the ceremony seemed like an angry event put on by angry people. I need to practice my own peace-making practices.

“I’m saying a prayer for peace, not a curse on Bush or Condoleezza or anyone else. Peace begins with each one of us. As the prayer of St. Francis goes, where there is conflict, let there be peace. I don’t have to strike out,” Martin said.

Lee takes any differences of opinion in stride, as well as any misconceptions about the peace coalition.

“People think the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition is an unpatriotic, small organization on the fringe,” Lee said. “People fail to realize it’s filled with people on town councils, nurses and doctors, school board members, teachers, housewives, neighbors and restaurant owners. We don’t have a membership list. People who show up at our meetings and are willing to sign and pay for our ads are who we are.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518


September 11 ceremonies

6:30 p.m. tonight, Sopris Park, Carbondale (bring candles or flashlights)

7 p.m. tonight, Congregational Church of the Valley, Silt (one block north on 6th Avenue) 625-4320

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.