The 9-11-06 Commemoration Ceremony
at Mercer County Community College


MCCC's Acting President Thomas N. Wilfrid

Good afternoon - colleagues, students and guests.

Thank you for joining us for this brief ceremony to commemorate the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001, to remember and honor the victims of that day, especially those from Mercer County, and to reflect on what that day taught us about our world, and about how our world has changed since that day.

The events of September 11, 2001 are usually described as an attack upon America. They were, but they were more than that. They were an attack upon humanity. Those who died in the attacks that day were overwhelmingly American, but there were over 200 others from 36 other countries: British, Japanese, Colombian, Jamaican, Filipino, Mexican, German, Peruvian, Italian, Brazilian, Ecuadorian, Guyanese, Lebanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Congolese, Ghanaian, Haitian, Israeli, Australian, Belgian, French, Honduran, Indian, Indonesian, Irish, citizens of the Ivory Coast, Lithuanian, Moldavian, Nigerian, Russian, Swedish, Taiwanese, Ukrainian, Uzbek, and Venezuelan.

It is so much easier, so much more cowardly, to destroy than it is to create. By gathering here, at this institution of learning populated primarily by Americans but also by people from all over the world, we affirm the human spirit - the courageous, creative, constructive, collaborative, peaceful, loving and beautiful human spirit, which is ultimately so much more powerful than the forces of destruction.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes - Notes

  • Five years have passed since terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC.
  • Many of our communities and residents still bear scars from that day.
  • Today is a day of mourning, but also a day of togetherness and healing.
  • We must look to the future not with fear, but with creativity and compassion.
  • An open mind is a powerful weapon in the face of any threat.
  • Terrorists achieve their objectives by making people fear one another and divide themselves.
  • We become stronger as a community by finding common ground with each other, and by taking an active interest in the traditions and beliefs that make each of us unique.
  • The diversity of this country enriches our daily lives and fortifies us in times of duress.
  • As we heal and move forward from the trauma of September 11, we can support one another by understanding one another, and by creating an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds and beliefs.

Mercer County Freeholder Elizabeth Muoio:

September 11th means many things for many people. In our family that day five years ago had started out as a beautiful and happy one. I had just had my third child four days earlier and he was now home with us. His brother and sister left for school that gorgeous morning eager to tell anyone who would listen about their new baby brother. My husband had taken a few days off from work to help out with things at home and it seemed as if life couldn't be any better. Then the first plane hit the north tower and we sat in shock along with the rest of the nation watching the indescribable events of that day unfold. For our family, however, the tragedy of that day will always be inextricably linked with the joyous birth of our son in more ways than one, because had he not arrived when he did, my husband would have traveled to New York and spent the night of September 10th at the World Trade Center Marriott for a scheduled meeting on the morning of the 11th.

So yes, 9/11 taught us many things. As a nation we saw both the finest in human nature and the most despicable. We learned that we are a vulnerable nation but one that can come together in times of need and become a source of tremendous strength. And in my family, the most important lesson learned was that each and every day is a gift. It is a gift and an opportunity to make a difference. And because we are fortunate enough to live in the United States, that gift provides us with virtually limitless opportunities - regardless of our sex, race, religious or political beliefs.

The people who lost their lives on September 11th left for work that morning probably never thinking of themselves as symbols of our nation, but that is exactly what they were. They were targeted simply because they were Americans and because, for some, the democratic principles upon which our country was based are viewed as a threat. The terrorists through they could defeat that threat by striking at its very heart on September 11th. Well, they failed. And while it doesn't mean they won't keep trying, what we have to remember is that with each day we are given, with each of the limitless possibilities and opportunities we take advantage of in our lives, we defy what the terrorists try to achieve just as much as any amount of ammunition ever could.

So here today, we honor those who lost their lives on September 11th, and by taking to heart the lessons learned that day, we pledge that their sacrifices will not have been in vain.

Thank you very much.

Reverend Robert Wittik

"Almighty, Wonderful God, and Maker of Heaven and Earth. We humbly pray that we may always remember Your grace and mercy, and with appreciation may we faithfully do Your will. You have given us this nation as our shared heritage. God...bless America...always...with honest industry, trughful education, heartfelt compassion, strong families, safe streets, and an honorable way of life.

Dear God, defend our liberties and strengthen the character and resolve of all of our citizens, and of those who have come here peacefully from all over the world to make America their home.

May we always remember that fateful day five years ago! Deconstruct all terrorist networks everywhere. "Deliver us from evil," and the Evil One, and from all those who would choose a culture of death over Your gift of life. Save us from those who would pervert true freedom and justice, and from all those who serve of the false gods of hatred, violence, murder and war. For we know not from where our enemies will emerge next, nor the harm that they are currently plotting against us.

Help us to appreciate the opportunities that are ours, as we struggle to bring harmony to an unsettled world. And, ever lead us to always choose the harder right...and may we never be afraid of those who are wicked in Your eyes.

May we balance our concern for justice...with a willingness and courage to produce worthwhile change...for the good of all people everywhere.

Oh Lord, we pray for Your guidance as we work together for the safety of our communities, our campuses, our county, and beyond, with the ultimate goal of peace.

We request protection for those who protect us, and stand in the gap, both abroad and at home. We pray for those who lead our country, and our state -- all those whom You and we have entrusted to be in authority. Give them wisdom, courage, compassion, faith and resolve. May they daily turn to You for guidance and for strength in all that they do.

When times are safe and prosperous, let our hearts be humble and thankful...and in troubled and challenging times may our deepest trust and all of our hope be in You. You are a Wonderful and Magnificant, Faithful and Caring God! Help us to see You more clearly, follow You more nearly, and love You more dearly. Amen.