9/11 remembrance unites two nations

[attach]756[/attach]Torontonians commemorated the eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks by gathering for a solemn vigil at the Millennium Garden in Woodbine Park.

At 1 p.m. a small contingent of firefighters entered in a procession led by mounted police and motorcycle officers. After making their way to the rows of guests, the police honour guard took up position behind the cenotaph at the centre of the garden.

Attendees sang the Canadian and American national anthems, and members of the crowd were invited to step up to the microphone to deliver short speeches.

While the vigil was intended to honour and reflect upon those who lost their lives in the attacks, many of the speeches were as hopeful as they were sombre.

“Light and tolerance will win in even the darkest moments,” said American Consul General to Toronto Kevin Johnson. “It wasn’t an American victim that day. The whole world was a victim.

“People around the world disagree on many things, but agree on basic humanity and tolerance.”

Speaking before the ceremony, former CFTO news personality Glenn Cochrane said the ceremony becomes more important as time goes by.

“The public starts to forget what happened, and this vigil makes sure it stays fresh in their minds,” he said. “I think it is a sign that everybody was affected by it somehow.”

Organizer Gene Domagala of Centre 55 Community Centre agreed.

[attach]755[/attach]“Some years we have 50 people and some years we have 150 people,” he said. “I think this ceremony is keeping the memory alive.”

Speaking from the front of the crowd, Beaches-East York MP Maria Minna said the ceremony is evidence Canada and the United States share close bonds and that “the two western nations must work together or we will continue to be in danger.”

Ron Jenkins of the Toronto Fire Services told the audience firefighters remember the tragedy and will work towards readiness in case of future attacks.

After the speeches, the crowd bowed their heads for Jewish and Christian prayers. The audience stood in reflection as a lone bagpiper played a solemn rendition of “Amazing Grace”.

A moment of silence was held at the end of the ceremony.