On Sept. 11, 2001, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, then known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was scheduled to give a concert for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Underwriters.
But following the tragic terrorist attacks on the East Coast, the concert was changed to a memorial service, at which President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke.
“Today has been a day that will be remembered always in the annals of our beloved nation,” he said. “It has been a day when the ugly face of hatred has shown itself with terror, death and destruction. It has been a day when uncounted numbers of the innocent have perished and their loved ones have been left to sorrow. Many have been wounded, and this, our nation, has been seriously injured and insulted.”
President Hinckley welcomed those in attendance to the Salt Lake Tabernacle, “a building dedicated to the gospel of peace,” and hoped that they would “join with us in the spirit of this solemn occasion.”
The choir opened with the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and performed songs of consolation, comfort, hope, assurance and America.
“Our hearts are deeply touched, as are those of all Americans and of free people across the world,” President Hinckley said. “This has been a tragic, solemn and dark day. We have been reminded that evil is still rampant in the world.”
Then-U.S. President George W. Bush had said that there would be detection and punishment, President Hinckley said. “But that will not bring back the many whose lives have been taken or salve the pain of those who have been injured.”
Despite the darkness of the hour, President Hinckley said, “there is shining through the heavy overcast of fear and anger the solemn and wonderful image of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, the Exemplar of universal love, and it is to Him that we look in these circumstances.”
In closing, he asked that the peace of Christ give everyone comfort and reassurance, and that the Lord would “comfort the hearts of all who mourn.”
President Bush declared Sept. 14, 2001, a national day of prayer and remembrance. On this day, a memorial service was held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and broadcast to meetinghouses throughout the country. President Hinckley and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, offered prayers at the service.
“Our hearts are broken, our spirits subdued,” President Hinckley said. “We bow before the Almighty in reverence and reach out to those who have lost their lives, to their families and to those who were wounded in the attacks made against our beloved nation.”
The United States had been brought down into sorrow through “unbelievable acts of infamy,” he said. “We cannot call back the dead or ease the pains of the wounded, but at this solemn hour we call upon our Eternal Father to bring comfort, solace and reassurance to those who have suffered much.”
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth and gave His life so that all of God’s children could have eternal life, and it is to Him that one should look during this dark and somber time.
“May the peace of the Redeemer rest upon us,” President Hinckley said. “May His healing power mend the broken hearts and give strength to the wounded bodies and minds of all who have paid so great a price because of the evil acts of those who have injured us and betrayed the entire civilized world.”
He expressed gratitude for “this good land of America,” its founding fathers, the Constitution and “the hand of the Almighty upon this, our beloved country.”
“May the sure hand of Providence guide the destinies of our nation, that it may remain a land of freedom, peace, goodwill, and yet a nation of power and strength,” he said.
President Hinckley also asked that Heavenly Father bless each person “with an increased measure of outreaching love and that peace which comes alone from Him.”
He prayed “that our Heavenly Father will hasten the day when men everywhere across this broad earth will ‘beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’” (Isaiah 2:4).
Read the full addresses in “Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley: Vol. 2: 2000-2004.” The full transcripts of President Hinckley’s remarks and benediction at the Sept. 14, 2001, service are also available at thechurchnews.com.