Vigil marks two-year anniversary of 9/11 attacks

Strong winds allowed few candles to remain lit at the candlelight vigil Thursday at Langley Park, that gathered a small intimate group that took the night as an opportunity to reflect. - Cynthia Woolbright
Strong winds allowed few candles to remain lit at the candlelight vigil Thursday at Langley Park, that gathered a small intimate group that took the night as an opportunity to reflect.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

Shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, a group of 20 people gathered at the Langley Park for a candlelight vigil to mark the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Strong winds dimmed many of the flames, but some determined to shine flickered strong. Traffic continued to buzz through Langley, seemingly unaware of the quiet vigil attempting to be held.

It was an anniversary display of a much smaller scale compared to how South Whidbey marked the anniversary last year.

Have the terrorist attacks that rocked the nation been forgotten, or has South Whidbey simply healed? Does the day, two years later bring the same strain to the heart of America?

Or is there a new meaning for the Sept. 11 and new agenda for Americans in remembering the day?

"Increasing crisis in the world gives movement to action like this. 9/11 has just become a trademark reference," said Jane Klassen of Freeland.

Shirley Jantz of Langley is a member of the Peace and Reconciliation Network, a group of Whidbey islanders who have been meeting since March to discuss world events.

"It's been a way for us to come together in discussion, and think about the current political environment we're faced with, and how we can make a positive change," Jantz said.

At the core of last night's gathering, Jantz said, was a group of people who want to work together toward a goal.

"This isn't so much a remembrance as it is a meditation on peace in the world," said Randall Schwab of Freeland. "9/11 was not as much of a catastrophy as it was made out to be, and the Administration used its to justify its subsequent actions."

Following the silent showing at Langley Park, the group made its way to the Langley United Methodist Church where they reflected ways to create a more peaceful world.

Ann Linnea, who along with Christina Baldwin facilitated the circle discussion, began the talks with a statement repeated by many at the event.

"I had wanted to mark this day but didn't quite know how, so I thank everyone here who has gathered with us," she said.

Linnea said she was "deeply saddened in the opportunity this country had in making a difference in world peace, but instead chose to take an-eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth approach."

Emotions in the room were mixed, but all circled around a desire for peace.

Following the events of Sept. 11, national security and America's place in the world took center stage. Anthrax scares slowed the mail systems, heightened airport security bottle-necked airports, and a new generation was introduced to the throws of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a post Sept. 11 World the picture has widened to create a bigger awareness in many South Whidbey residents.

"It's amazing how real the rest of the world has become to me in the last two years-people in other countries and especially the Muslim world-are so real," Baldwin said. "I've really had to heart search and try to place the faces of these people in front of me."

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