Deb Gehris, LDS Church
SALT LAKE CITY — As the nation looked back on a decade since the 9/11 destruction, it was fitting, perhaps, that the 10-year anniversary fell on a Sunday, when much of the citizenry is typically in an attitude of reverence and prayer.
The timing was impeccable for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, as the presentation of its nationwide weekly TV and radio program "Music and the Spoken Word" could be devoted to a remembrance of that horrific event and, more particularly, a celebration of how Americans have overcome it.
The pre-produced, half-hour program, "9/11: Rising Above," featured the talent of guest narrator Tom Brokaw, the NBC anchor whose voice and visage had already become linked with the event, both from news coverage of it 10 years ago and special programs dedicated to it this past weekend.
In a closed session, Brokaw recorded his segments with the choir and orchestra at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Aug. 21.
"It has been 10 years since 9/11, and yet we continue to tell the stories of the children, parents and families, airline passengers and air traffic controllers, the firemen and other first-responders, for they inspire and give us hope," Brokaw said in his introductory narration.
"But how do we tell the story of the rest of America, those who watched the images and heard the accounts and were forever changed? As they went through their own experiences with loved ones in war zones and struggled with economic uncertainty at home, they never gave up."
A performance of "Shenandoah," by the choir and orchestra was augmented with images of Americana interspersed with views of the newly dedicated 9/11 memorial at ground zero in New York City, where the gigantic skyscrapers once stood.
"Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on," were the words in one view of the memorial.
Interviews with American citizens regarding the disaster — eyewitnesses, survivors, loved ones of those who died — were interspersed between the half-dozen musical selections presented on the program.
"We saw an explosion; the towers were not too far off in the distance," one man related, "and we came to understand that was the second plane hitting the south tower at the time. It was then that I realized something was very wrong, and I turned to the driver and said, 'Take me home.' My time with my family is what I hold most treasured. I didn't think it would be possible or that it would require an event like 9/11 to make me feel any more connected to my wife and my children, but I work to be with my family. I work to have more time with them. The one thing that I have that I can hold on to the most is my family, my faith and my friends."
A woman who lost her brother in 9/11, said, "I committed to make sure that my family was really close. So now, as I raise my family, we want to make sure that we have fun together and that we build those memories and that my kids are close to each other."
Introducing the Billy Joel song "Lullabye (Goodnight , My Angel)" Brokaw said, "Among the most poignant stories are those of the children. Trying to understand the sudden violent loss of family members and the terrifying images of destruction reminds us all of the lost innocence of that day and the days to come. We have learned again that nothing can extinguish the influence of a human life, particularly as it is felt in the heart of a child. That, too, is part of the legacy of 9/11."
The program concluded with "God Bless America." Already having become a patriotic standard for Americans after Irving Berlin wrote it in 1918 and then revised it in 1938, it became the unofficial anthem of 9/11. T
his, Brokaw said, is "because so many found comfort and guidance in its soaring stanzas. It bound together a nation in need of a common voice. Today, with arms outstretched to one another and hands willing to serve, America has come together once again. May it ever be so."
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