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Auburn shows pride in 9/11 tribute

Gov. Chris Gregoire addresses the audience at the 9/11 commemoration at the Auburn Performing Arts Center.  - Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter
Gov. Chris Gregoire addresses the audience at the 9/11 commemoration at the Auburn Performing Arts Center.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter

Auburn's 10th anniversary commemoration of the Sept. 11 attacks on Sunday evoked American pride and spirit while paying tribute to the thousands who lost their lives in the national tragedy.

Patriotic music permeated the Auburn Performing Arts Center – including John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" and selections by composer Aaron Copeland – all performed by the Auburn Symphony Orchestra.

The event – "The Triumph of the American Spirit: A Community Commemoration" – felt more like a celebration, focusing instead on the sense of national pride prevalent in the dark days after the attacks while honoring the first responders and armed service members who continue to serve the country today.

"Today I'd like to remember 9/11, not only for what it did to us, but for what it did for us as a community and as a country," Gov. Chris Gregoire told the crowd. Gregoire, an Auburn native and two-term governor, came home as one of the program's guest speakers.

"It wasn't something that just changed the skyline of one of the most vibrant cities of the world, or the grieving families of almost 3,000 victims," Gregoire continued. "It was something that, in truth, changed every single American. Our commitment to our values grew. We felt a real sense of collective responsibility and duty. We felt immense pride in the first responders in what they did and how they work and sacrifice. It made it come home for us. What they do every single day when they go out."

Gregoire called or a return to the unity that bound the nation together in the days following the attacks.

"Today, 10 years later, I ask if we can't go back to the spirit we felt that day," she said. "Despite the worst economic times, despite two wars, despite disappointment in elected leaders or whatever else you might be disappointed in, can we go back and feel that same pride we felt that day?

"Remember that sense of responsibility we felt that day, wondering if we could reach out and help someone in New York City or perhaps someone here at home who might be at a disadvantage," Gregoire said. "So let's revive that feeling. Let's get involved in our communities."

The commemoration included readings by Auburn Symphony board member Nancy Colson and KUOW host Dave Beck, as well as speeches by Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, Auburn Police Chaplain Michael Hursh, President of the Washington State Fire Chiefs Al Church and Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, who stressed his confidence in the citizens of the United States.

"Our time is coming again because America always comes back," Lewis said.

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