A NATION MOURNS - Tucson Local Media: Import

A NATION MOURNS

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Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Friday afternoon's mass at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church was blanketed with sadness as hundreds congregated to remember the victims of the worst terrorist attack in America's history.

"We gather here as people united under one God," said Father Mike Martinez at the beginning of the ceremony, just after the church bells rang at noon. "We are here to pray for the innocent victims, our family and our friends."

Several who attended the service on what President George W. Bush called a "national day of remembrance" wore red shirts and carried American flags as a symbol of their patriotism.

The Knights of Columbus Honor Guard was also at the service to pay tribute to those who lost their lives Sept. 11 when two hijacked commercial airliners crashed into New York's World Trade Center twin towers causing them to collapse, a third hijacked airliner crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth crashed in an area in rural Pennsylvania, killing thousands.

Many churches across the northwest held services Friday, declared a National Day of Remembrance by President George W. Bush, to remember and pray for those lost in the attack.

"We were all affected by this act of terror, these heinous crimes," Martinez said.

"It was a difficult time for me as well," he continued. "I woke up Tuesday morning and I was in utter shock and disbelief. After a few hours, I was accepting it as true, and I felt anger, terrible anger and deep sadness."

Martinez asked the congregation to pray for those who died trying to save the lives of those trapped in the buildings.

"Let us remember those who died heroically," he said, as members of the attendance collectively lowered their heads. "Let us pray for our country who mourns."

Martinez told the congregation he has received several letters from bishops around the world offering their condolences.

"It does not make any sense whatsoever that people would attack the U.S. and innocent civilians," he said.

Martinez also said that while the church does not condone war, it does recognize a need for the nation to defend itself.

"We do not like war, we do not want war," he said. "But at the same time, we do have a right to defend ourselves, and sometimes it's necessary with the cost of human lives to save more people. Sometimes when you're backed up against a wall, there's a need to defend ourselves."

Colin Voveris, who attended the service and was in the army 10 years ago, said he would re-enlist if the need came up.

"I never thought I would say this, but if they told me today, I would go," he said.

Voveris attended the ceremony to mourn the loss of a friend who was on American Airlines flight 11, on its way to Los Angeles from Boston when it was hijacked and deliberately piloted into the World Trade Center's north tower.

"I met him just three weeks ago," he said, his voice shaking with emotion. "He was the husband of a friend of mine from high school, and I was back in New Hampshire for a high school reunion and spent the weekend with him and his wife. It seems like everyone knows someone."

Voveris said the full impact of the tragedy did not hit him until he went to give blood Tuesday.

"I was numb to everything, and then I felt the prick in my arm," he said. "Then it just hit me."

Rose Palmer, who also attended the service, approached Voveris after the service was over to offer him a hug and some words of comfort about his lost friend.

"You know it was just his time to go," she told him as they both wiped away tears and embraced each other. "He's in a good place now."

Palmer said she felt helpless after Tuesday's attack and didn't know what she could do.

"I just wish I could go over there," she said.

Instead, Palmer made more than 200 red, white and blue ribbons the night before the service to pass out to the congregation.

"This is a horrible, horrible thing," she said. "Their time will come," she said of those who organized the attack.

Martinez cautioned the congregation on how to deal with their anger at those who caused the tragedy.

"I know many of us are hurting and grieving," he said. "I know many of us are angry and that's OK, we're human. Focus anger on those who deserve it.

There are many people of the attackers' ethnicity who do not share their views."

He also added that despite increases in security around the world, the terrorism has not ended yet.

"I have a feeling there's going to be more," he said.

But Voveris said he knows America will do what is necessary to restore peace .

"They had a saying after Pearl Harbor that I heard once, 'They've woken the giant,'" Voveris said. "They've done more than that this time. They've pissed off the giant."

Martinez said he has been helping people deal with their grief all week the best way he knows how -- by simply listening.

"There are the obvious words of consolation," he said. "But most of the time, just having someone present and listening is what helps them the most."

Martinez emphasized that there is hope that the nation and it's people will recover from the tragedy, as long as everyone remains united against further terrorism.

"The country is in mourning, but we are not a people without hope," he said. "We can overcome all things. Now is the time to put away all pettiness and come together. We need each other."

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