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EDITORIAL:We found hope in the ruins

September 09, 2006

Horrific, monstrous, devastating, shocking — unifying — all of these words describe the events of five years ago Monday, but none alone can capture the essence of it.

It's been five years since men filled with hate turned airplanes into missiles in an attack on our freedom that shook the nation's core.

On Monday we pause to remember those who paid the ultimate price for that freedom — the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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Many say it was a defining moment in U.S. history, a defining moment for a generation. And it was. The events of that day, the anguish, the sorrow and the anger brought us together as a nation in the days, weeks and months following the attacks.

In those days, we became a nation of patriots, united in memory of the dead, to find hope in the ruins of our nation's symbols of freedom.

Even in the rubble, we found hope back then — from Ground Zero to Glendale, the foothills and Burbank.

Reeling in stunned disbelief, churches opened their doors for prayer services, and people gathered to pray. Public safety officials collected money for their fallen comrades. The steps of police stations and City Hall became shrines as residents gathered to remember and reflect. Children held drives to raise relief money. Road rage became an infantile exercise. Crime took a dip. Our leaders stopped bickering, and got on the same page for a while as they urged against stereotyping, blame and backlash.

Community members of every race, age, creed and color went out at nightfall and held candles aloft.

Out of tragedy, we found hope in the very act of coming together. It was the essence of community.

If only there was a way to bottle that unifying energy, we could sure use some of it in this post-Sept. 11, 2001, world — where the unity of the days following the attacks has given way to fights over the morality of war, and where fear of terrorism have given rise to serious threats to civil liberties.

Life has moved on, with its petty politics and intolerance, which when measured against the events of that fateful day, seem so small.

A divided world is what allows such attacks to occur. It is what caused the loss of thousands of lives, including lives that were striving to bridge that divide.

Yeneneh Betru, 35, of Burbank, dreamed of a healthier world. As a physician, he dreamed of one day opening a hemodialysis clinic in his native Ethiopia.

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