The firefighters, police officers, and thousands of other victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington were remembered yesterday in downtown Toledo with prayers, songs, and words.
About 700 people attended a community memorial service outside Government Center honoring the firefighters and police officers who died in the World Trade Center tragedy.
Fire Lt. Richard Knight held back tears as he opened the service with a recitation of the “Firefighter's Prayer.''
Bugler Lauraine Carpenter played Taps and the Lucas County sheriff's office drum and bagpipers corps performed Amazing Grace.
Toledo Fire Chief Mike Bell eulogized his “fallen brothers'' who went into the burning buildings to help the victims. He said they died doing what they loved to do - saving lives.
“They don't expect to give their lives. But they are prepared to give it,'' said Chief Bell. ‘‘We are a brotherhood. We are a family. We will always be a family.''
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said the firefighters, police officers, the airplane passengers, and others who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are American heroes.
‘‘Today, we appropriately and profoundly mourn their great loss. They all deserve Purple Hearts,'' she said.
Miss Kaptur encouraged the crowd, many dressed in red, white, and, blue and waiving U.S. flags, to give blood, buy savings bonds, or enlist in the armed forces.
Bruce and Joann Siet of West Toledo wore matching red, white, and blue jackets. They said they felt they needed to attend the service to show their support for the victims.
“We sympathize for the families of the victims of the tragedies in New York and Washington,” Mr. Siet said.
Most of those who gathered for the memorial service joined police officers, firefighters, sheriff deputies, and Ohio Highway Patrol troopers in a procession to Promenade Park, where a candle-light prayer service was held.
They were led by Sgt. Michael McGee, a member of the police department's mounted patrol, as he guided his riderless horse, Harley, along Jackson Boulevard, St. Clair Street, across Levis Park and into Promenade Park.
Two black boots were inserted backwards in the stirrups of a saddle strapped to the back of Harley.
At the entrance of the park, a large U.S. flag hung from the aerial ladders of two fire department trucks. “Remember” was printed on a banner near the entrance.
Ministers, priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders participated in the prayer service in the park.
White candles were distributed to people who gathered near the stage.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said the recent events have left a hole in America's heart that should be filled with love, not hate.
“We didn't get to where we are today by having our hearts filled with hate, spite, and vengeance,” he said.
John Shousher, a local spokesman for Arab-Americans, recited a series of Arabic prayers, translating each line into English. With his arms wrapped around the shoulders of a rabbi and a minister, he urged the crowd to seek unity with the Muslim community.
“We are your friends. We are your community. We are your brothers,” Mr. Shousher said.