Saturday, September 15, 2001

Silent period observed all over Tristate

The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Thousands filled Fountain Square Froday to pray together.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        In a show of support for their besieged American family, thousands of Cincinnatians came together at noon Friday in schools, churches and offices, on a day of remembrance of this week's terrorist attacks.

        The largest gathering was drawn to Fountain Square, a place where Cincinnatians have celebrated World Series triumphs. But on Friday more than 5,000 “came to mourn,” said Mayor Charlie Luken.

        “The water that flows from our fountain today represents the millions of tears shed by Cincinnatians over the terrible tragedy that has visited our nation,” the mayor told the crowd.

        Many, on a breezy September noon hour, could feel the spray of that fountain on their backs and faces as they waved tiny American flags and heard prayers of mourning, mercy and redemption from local clergy spanning religions from Catholic to Muslim.

        “We're people of hope, and if we don't provide hope, where's it going to come from?” said Canon Nan Arrington Peete of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

        “I think we all need this now,” said Loretha Hudson of Colerain Township, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. “We need to pray together.”

[photo] Jim Wilder of Norwood held 10 flags during the gathering at Fountain Square
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        Mrs. Hudson and several of her co-workers trekked across the Roebling Suspension Bridge on lunch hour from their jobs at the IRS Center in Covington. The service was one of hundreds around the country after President Bush declared Friday a national day of mourning and prayer for the nation and the victims of Tuesday's attacks.

        Thousands of other Cincinnatians gave up their lunch hours to pay their respects to the dead and wounded and show their love for their country.

Sticking together

        They say the mail never stops, but it did — for five minutes, at the downtown branch post office at 525 Vine St. Workers there locked the doors for five minutes at noon as they observed a silent prayer.

        Lilly Ashbrook, a worker at the downtown branch, said the observance was “all about respect ... We kind of let them know that this is the United States. When times are rough, we've got to stick together.”

        In Hamilton, outside a service attended by more than 500 at the Presbyterian Church, two Hamilton fire trucks with American flags mounted on them were parked in the middle of the street. About 30 city police officers and firefighters stood in a line in front of the trucks.

[photo] Jon Kanter of Blue Ash kneels during a prayer at the World Peace Bell in Newport, where about 150 gathered.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Dozens of people who had attended the service walked up and shook hands with each officer and firefighter and thanked them for the work they do.

        “They go so often without being recognized for what they do,” said Elise Martin, 30, of Hamilton. “It's a shame it takes something like this to make us appreciate them.”

        Hamilton Police Sgt. Ed Buns said he was moved by the spontaneous display of respect.

        “That was just a tremendous feeling,” he said. “It was wonderful. We know the vast majority of people appreciate us. It's only a vocal few who don't.”

        Computer firm owner Dave Hatter, 32, came to a noon service at St. Agnes Roman Catholic church in Fort Wright, Ky., to “try and make some kind of sense of what happened.”

        “I'm trying get a sense of understanding about this from a higher power than myself.”

        Some businesses in Newport shut down to let workers attend a ceremony at the World Peace Bell. Joining them was Mario Periera, 40, of Toronto, who is stranded in Cincinnati until he can get a flight home.

        Tuesday's attacks, he said, were as much a shock to Canadians as to Americans.

        “I think for the free world, it's definitely a black mark against our freedoms and our ability to move around,” he said.

        At Ethicon Endo-Surgery in Blue Ash, more than 500 employees gathered outside for three minutes of silence. The company is owned by Johnson & Johnson and headquartered in Brunswick, N.J.

        “"Because our parent company is so close to New York, it's hard to find somebody who wasn't touched by Tuesday's events in some way,” said Tom Milliken, company spokesman.

        He was at the headquarters Tuesday and poked his head in to visit a friend, “but his secretary stopped me. His son worked in the World Trade Center and he was frantically trying to locate him,” he said.

        The man's son was eventually found safe.

Dear Mr. President

        Students at Oak Tree Montessori spent their lunch period thinking about the terrorist attack on Tuesday. Elementary students wrote letters that morning explaining why the president called for a national day of prayer and mourning.

        “We wanted them thinking about why there was a moment of silence,” said teacher Omope Carter Daboiku. “Some of the kids wrote to their friends, some to their parents or President Bush. One boy wrote to the postman.”

        David Smith, a 10-year-old student, said he thought about all the children who lost their parents in the attacks.

        “I just thought about the people who died and tried to imagine what it felt like for them, and for the kids who lost their parents,” David said.

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