Weaving unity on Sept. 11

Published 10:46 pm Friday, September 9, 2016

Fifteen years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, memories are in danger of fading and a new generation of high-schoolers wasn’t even alive when the attacks happened.

But St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown plans to offer a meaningful way for everyone to mark the day this Sunday.

The Rev. Keith Emerson, rector at St. Paul’s, said he thinks the anniversary of the horrible attack “feels a little different this time.”


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“Not that there isn’t grief this time, but my sense is people are more reflective after 15 years,” Emerson said.

To put it in perspective, Emerson said, 15 years after the Pearl Harbor attack was 1956.

“World War II was over and done with,” he said. But 15 years after the 2001 attacks, “I don’t know that we necessarily feel like we’re any closer to a sense of peaceful resolution.”

On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, also a Sunday, St. Paul’s hung a ribbon in the church for every person who died in the attacks.

“We wanted to do something again for the 15th anniversary, but not necessarily replicate what we did before,” Emerson said.

This year’s project was inspired by an interactive art exhibit called The Unity Project, where participants weave yarn around poles containing statements with which they identify.

St. Paul’s project will feature 16 posts with eight different identifying questions. The first is “I was living in Suffolk on 9/11” or “I was not living in Suffolk on 9/11.” Additional questions include whether they knew someone at the Pentagon or World Trade Center and whether they have become more tolerant in the last 15 years.

“The more people that participate, the bigger the pattern becomes and you begin to get a sense of who we are as a community,” Emerson said.

A special, smaller version for children will feature statements like “I have a friend” and “I’m here to help somebody.”

“It’s really not connected to 9/11, but not entirely removed from it,” Emerson said of the children’s version.

A prayer tree and refreshments will also be available during the morning. The church bells will ring at six different times throughout the morning, signifying the moments plane crashes and building collapses occurred 15 years ago.

“Our goal, between 8:30 and 11 (a.m.), is to give people in the church but also in our community a place to come and be on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 for as long as they’d like to stay,” Emerson said. “It’s a meaningful way to participate in something bigger than ourselves.”

He said everyone is invited to stop by and participate — it will take about 10 minutes to complete, Emerson said — and they don’t necessarily have to stay for church.

“We’re hoping people who are on their way to church will stop by, on their way to work will stop by, people running errands or going for a walk,” Emerson said. “It’s not necessarily an effort to recruit people to our church, we just want to offer the community the gift of a place to be on 9/11.”

Emerson said local police officers and firefighters have been especially invited.

“We’d love for our first responders to be able to stop by, participate and receive our thanks for what they do,” Emerson said.

The church is located at 213 N. Main St.