— Ken Klukowski
Director, Center of Religious Liberty
Fox News (Aug. 29, 2011)
The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is fast approaching. And the Cleveland and Bradley County community is carrying on the tradition of holding a public event called “Cry Out America.”
The event will be held on this date at 3 p.m. in the Conn Center on the Lee University campus. It is free and open to the public.
The program focuses on a theme of “Hope and Humility,” and it calls on all Americans to cry out in praise and thanksgiving to God and to focus on hope and unity for our churches, our cities and our nation.
Ecumenical worship leaders from across Cleveland and Bradley County will join with the Lee University Band to lead us in singing and “Crying Out” in praise and petition.
It is a privilege to be a part of this event along with clergy from throughout the community.
There will be many 911 remembrances taking place in Cleveland on Sunday, Sept. 11, including many churches that will remember the day in some way.
One church, Maple Street Baptist Church, will open its 11 a.m. service to all first responders, asking them to come and take part and be guests of honor with their families.
This year marks 10 years since our world was turned upside down and thousands lost their lives in this senseless terrorist attack. It was a day that changed the world.
Sept. 11 will be remembered around the world, but it is not without controversy — and the New York ceremony on the very site of the attack is ever-changing.
This past week Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in putting the Sept. 11 program together, left out any clergy. For the first time, no clergy will be involved.
In the past, the New York Fire Department chaplain, the archbishop of New York, and the cardinal and bishop of Brooklyn have all taken part in some way.
Bloomberg has announced this is to focus on the families; however, he is also preparing to take away the traditional reading of the list of victims after this year, saying he may not include the reading of the names in future observances.
Removing clergy from the New York ceremony has caught the attention of many. Speaking on Fox News on Aug. 29, Ken Klukowski, director for the Center of Religious Liberty, said it best:
“When tragedies strike, people do not turn to politicians — they turn to God.”
This statement is so very true. After the 911 attack, people around the world were praying, holding prayer vigils and comforting one another through the comfort of God’s word.
There arose a new awakening to God’s sovereignty, His Power and His Grace.
When I learned of the change in the New York observance, it made me even prouder of how we here in Cleveland and Bradley County respond to tragedy.
We turn to God. And we proudly support our neighbors through prayer and comfort.
Cleveland’s faith in God is apparent throughout this community. A good example is a communitywide July 4th celebration that has become a tradition. In it, we honor God and Country, and we thank God for our freedoms.
It’s well-attended and it grows every year.
Many places in Cleveland will begin displaying the U.S. flag outside every home, apartment, office and storefront.
Every individual should make it their duty to display our flag on this 10th anniversary of one of our country’s worst tragedies.
We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.
Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn’t take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity.
This tragic event also united us as one country under God and helped each of us to refocus our lives on what’s important. It was a re-awakening.
When tragedy strikes, people do turn to God. Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and I are proud to join with clergy from our community each year to commemorate this event in history and to remember those who died.
We both have often shared with one another what a comfort it is to know others are praying for us in our day-to-day jobs.
When people argue separation of church and state, I merely remind them that every day Congress opens with prayer, given by a paid chaplain.
It dates back to 1787 with the inclusion of a prayer before the opening of each session of both the House and the Senate, tracing its origins back to the days of the Continental Congress, and the official recommendation of Benjamin Franklin on June 28, 1787:
On that date, Franklin wrote, “I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel. I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
It was true in the days of Benjamin Franklin and it’s true today. When tragedy strikes, we need the comfort that only comes from knowing God.
I urge every Clevelander to join us Sept. 11. And take part in an observance somewhere — in your church, your home or the public event at 3 p.m. at Conn Center on the Lee University campus.
It’s a time of “Hope and Humility” and of “Praise and Petition.”
May we never forget 9/11, the lives lost and the lessons learned.