With their heads bowed, 70 people listened to the wail of police sirens fade in and out, the noise slicing through the silence. The sirens represented all of the firefighters, police officers and volunteers who drove toward the World Trade Center when the towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Patriot Day Commemoration had several similarly poignant moments as Lodi residents spent two hours Tuesday afternoon at American Legion Post 22 remembering the day that everyone said changed the world forever.
“We’re here to remember the events of 9/11 and the profound effect that it had on our country and on the world. ... We need to understand each other and work together so that this tragic event will not reoccur,” said Herb Horstmann, a congregational leader at St. Paul Lutheran Church.
Ten religious leaders spoke, offering prayers for the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks, and the families they left behind.
“We are solemn as we reflect on the tragic loss of life 11 years ago in New York City, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93,” St. John’s Episcopal Church Pastor Jim Stickney said. “We also are hopeful as we rebuild in the aftermath of death because you, God, call us to embrace life and the living.”
Rabbi Dr. Raphael Pazo organized the service with the goal of bringing together various faiths in Lodi. The speakers often read from religious texts, including the Bible, the Quran and the Mourner’s Kaddish in Aramaic.
There was also a 21-gun salute and a performance of “Taps,” and the Lodi Police Department Honor Guard and American Legion Post 22 posted the colors.
The Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki of the Lodi Buddhist Church told the story of his father living in Japan when atomic bombs were dropped during World War II.
“Because of his horrible experience, he made it his resolution to create a world without war,” he said.
While singing prayers, members of Deshmesh Darbar Temple, the Lodi Sikh temple, played two harmoniums, which are keyboard instruments similar to a reed organ, and a tabla, which is a pair of hand drums.
Grace Presbyterian Pastor David Hill said he remembers speaking to a member of his congregation on Sept. 11, 2001. After turning on the TV, Kim Daniel called Hill because her husband Corey Daniel was training for his then-job with Morgan Stanley on the 61st floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
When the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 a.m., security guards told everyone in the South Tower to start evacuating. Daniel had just started running down the stairs when the second plane hit his tower at 9:03 a.m.
He was able to escape. Even 11 years later, Hill said he remembers comforting Kim Daniel as she worried about her husband.
At the service Tuesday, Hill said it is important to continue healing, just like New York rebuilt the streets and buildings around the World Trade Center.
“We realize that we have hope beyond that which happened to us, when we felt hopeless,” Hill said. “We ask strength to create a place of peace, a place of justice, a place of forgiveness, a place of healing, a place of recovery, where walls and streets are mended but more importantly, human hearts are mended.”
Following the prayer service, George Leonardini, an Army National Guard member who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, shook hands with Muhammad Tufail and Muhammad Shoaib, leaders at the Lodi Muslim Mosque.
Leonardini told them he has broke bread with people of many nationalities during this tours of duty.
“Most men want the same thing in life, and that is peace for themselves and their family,” he said.