Music & the Spoken Word: ‘9/11: Coming Together’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given on Sept. 12, 2021. This week it is shared by Jane Clayson Johnson, who is the host of the choir’s “9/11: Coming Together” 20th anniversary commemoration broadcast.

I’m here in Essex County, New Jersey, at the Eagle Rock Sept. 11 Memorial, overlooking Manhattan Island. On that morning, 20 years ago, I was in the city, co-anchoring a national network news program.

As live reports of the attacks went out, the world turned its eyes to the twin towers. Never before had so many, in so many nations, witnessed a tragedy like this one — in real time. Families, neighbors, students and co-workers watched the coverage side by side. And here, on this hill, thousands gathered to grieve and comfort one another in person.

Fresh flowers lie on a monument for police officers at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, N.J., Sept. 4, 2003, which honors those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The eagle is meant to symbolize freedom, while the statue of the girl in front of it is a symbol of children who lost loved ones.
Fresh flowers lie on a monument for police officers at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, N.J., Sept. 4, 2003, which honors those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The eagle is meant to symbolize freedom, while the statue of the girl in front of it is a symbol of children who lost loved ones. Credit: Daniel Hulshizer, Associated Press

Later, we learned that citizens from more than 50 countries lost their lives that day. Truly, the wounds of 9/11 were felt by the entire human family. And, as we suffered together, seeds of compassion, mutual understanding and tolerance began to grow among us.

9/11 also turned our attention to firefighters, policemen, paramedics and other emergency personnel. Many of these first responders were not on duty when the tragedy struck, but they answered a call from within. For them, rushing to the rescue was more than a job. It was a mission. And fulfilling that mission meant putting others’ needs above their own.

Looking back, the tragic attacks of 9/11 showed us something about ourselves — what we’re actually capable of doing to help one another. Across the world, a more gentle, humane spirit was evident in the public square — in schools, communities and workplaces. Many remarked that people were just a littler kinder, more tolerant and patient. Remembering and reviving that aspect of Sept. 11 is how we pay tribute to all who have suffered its effects. As one American leader said, “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11” (see President Barak Obama’s Weekly Address “Observing 9/11 with National Service” on Aug. 27, 2011).

In September 2001, rising above tragedy meant coming together. And for a brief moment, many found that the world could indeed be one in hope and unity. Believing that again now is the legacy of 9/11 for the rising generation — a legacy they can’t afford to be without, and a gift we will be blessed to give them. 

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYtUv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages