A father in his early 30s sits in the back of the Oro Valley Town Council Chambers with his daughter, 7, in his lap, two among 70 Oro Valley employees, family members and guests seeking help in understanding the events leading to this National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. Sept.14
A few miles south and west, a couple in their mid-80s are among 100 doing the same, the husband in a wheelchair, his hand clasping tightly the hand of his wife as they take part in a cathargic outpouring of tears in prayer and song.
These people, in sharing a resolve to see the end to a terroristic society in which people could be so committed to snuffing out democracy that they would fly planes into buildings in acts of self immolation, leaving at least 350 confirmed dead and 5,000 missing in New York and nearly 200 more dead in Washington, truly represented a microcosm of America in the aftermath of a tragedy that transcends age and what the mind can comprehend.
"They can strike at our buildings, but they cannot strike at our spirit," Oro Valley Vice Mayor Fran LaSala told the Oro Valley Town Hall crowd. "It is a terrible, terrible time, but we will get through it. It's not a matter of if, but when."
As for the how, Bob Easton, head of the Oro Valley Police Department's Office of Professional Development, had some suggestions.
"Right now, we can't see the end to this, and that is what haunts us all," Easton told the town hall assembly. "We see ourselves as victims, but with no end to it and it seems impossible to find a neutralizing balance point to turn to. But by understanding it and acknowledging it, you have two weapons to defeat it.
"You are not alone in feeling that this has created a dent in your armor. Allow yourself to emote, to cry, to show anger under the right circumstances. It's OK. But limit your response to it. Don't let it be a permanent part of your life.
"We fight ourselves in admitting it happened," Easton said. "There is a part of us that wants this not to be as bad as it is," to hope that those still missing beneath a million tons of rubble will somehow be found alive.
"There's nothing wrong with that," Easton said. "It's OK to hope," but in the meantime go back to your soccer games. It's OK to go out to dinner rather than being overwhelmed with guilt thinking of those who can't, he said.
"In doing so, you're diminishing the damage wrought by these terrorist acts by restoring some sense of normalcy to your lives.
"Part of what undermines us is that we don't know where they will strike next, but we must all do what we can to make our world as safe a place as we can.
"We have rancor on our sleeve," Easton said, stressing the need to be especially sensitive to the feelings of other citizens and to be alert to the possibility that the person who just cut you off in traffic might have just lost a loved one or have one still missing.
"We must limit our victim's losses by going back to our routines," Easton said. "By doing so we show that we are above the actions of these miserable cowards, that they can't win the psychological battle. And above all, remember there is a tremendous amount of help available to you," either at their place of work or through their church.
At about the same time, the Rev. David Smith of Casas Adobes Congregational Church, was delivering a similar message to his audience at the Fountains, 2020 W. Rudasill Road.
"They attacked the heart of America's financial and military centers as if that were all we are," Smith said. "We are more, much more. We are a people who care about one another very much as we care about the rest of the world," he said. And for that reason, "ultimately there will be an awful lot of ploughshares turned into swords from this day. But justice is desperately needed. For us and the world."
Alvin Sizer, 85, a Fountains at La Cholla resident, told of watching a man who stopped in the middle of River Road, backing up traffic while he picked up an American flag that had blown away. "It's how we all feel about the flag," Sizer said. "We want to protect it."
Sizer also reminisced about those reluctant to enter the service prior to Pearl Harbor.
"Pearl Harbor changed a lot of attitudes," Sizer said. "No one was griping then. They knew they had a job to do. So do we."