Two years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Columbia residents commemorated the tragedy with two separate events Thursday.
In a morning ceremony at the Boone County Courthouse, people honored Columbia rescue workers who traveled to ground zero in the days after the attacks. An evening rally at Peace Park, sponsored by the Columbia Peace Coalition, mourned the victims of Sept. 11 but also carried a more political message.
This was the third year the Peace Coalition has held the Peace Park event, which it calls the “No More Victims Candlelight Commemoration.”
Organizer Maureen Dickmann said the purpose of the event is to remember Sept. 11 but also to discuss the U.S. government’s response to the terrorist attacks and other international conflicts.
“War is not the answer; we must stop the cycle of violence,” said Dickmann, who is also a pastor at Rock Bridge Christian Church.
About 135 people attended the 7 p.m. rally, which featured performances and political speeches from representatives of local civic, political and religious organizations.
The Buds of Peace, a singing group organized by the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, performed songs in French, English and Arabic. The songs’ lyrics reflected the plight of children caught in the crossfire of war.
The group consists of 13 girls from countries around the world, including Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Bosnia, Nigeria and Bangladesh. The girls wore traditional costumes from their respective countries.
“It is a good reminder to us that the global community extends much farther than U.S. borders,” said Richard Osbaldiston, an MU doctoral student who attended the event.
Earlier in the day, about 300 people, including Mayor Darwin Hindman, gathered at the courthouse.
“It’s not important that people come to a formal event but just that they take a moment during their day to appreciate the people who were there and those who are still fighting the war on terror,” said Doug Westhoff, the leader of Task Force One.
Westhoff and his team of volunteers were called to duty in New York on Sept. 11 and spent 10 days aiding the New York Fire Department.
Missourian reporter Christine Stanley contributed to this story.