20 years after 9/11, community leaders reflect on that fateful day, share messages for countrymen

The 20th annual Tempe Healing Field tribute is running Sept. 10-12 at Tempe Beach Park. Live broadcast will be available on the Healing Field Memorial Facebook page. The reading of the names of the victims begins at 5:46 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, the time that the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Compiled by Joyce Coronel

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Wranglernews.com asked community leaders from Tempe and Chandler for their reflections regarding the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,996, and what message they have for their fellow Americans.

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Jennifer Adams

“This somber occasion is an opportunity to ensure we never forget the nearly 3,000 Americans who perished and how this horrible event forever joined our nation in solidarity. My college roommate, Julie Geis, was one of the bright lights who was extinguished that day. Every year, I look for her commemorative flag at Tempe’s Healing Field event and feel connected to her again. Everyone is invited Sept. 10-12 to Tempe Beach Park to pay respects and remember those unforgettable feelings of tragedy and unity.”

— Jennifer Adams, Tempe City Councilmember




Christine Ellis

I am certain that you will never forget where you were on this terrible day, now known as the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. As for me, I was in Queens, New York, getting ready for my flight back to Arizona. One thing I vividly recall, the unity that sprang from this disaster. To my fellow Americans, never forget that moment where we were all Americans, helping each other through this time of need. United we will always stand stronger.

— Christine Ellis, Chandler City Councilmember



Nick Bastian

I’d like to invite the members of our community to join myself and the rest of the Exchange Club of Tempe at the Healing Field where members of our community join us in placing flags in the ground to help remember each life lost that day. The Healing Field will stand at Tempe Beach Park from 9/10 – 9/12. Information and volunteer opportunities can be found at TempeHealingField.org. We will never forget.

— Nick Bastian, chairman of the Healing Field committee and Tempe businessman


Doug Royse

In one week, we will remember our fellow Americans who were killed on September 11th, 2001, In the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon or the field in Pennsylvania. Their lives mattered. Together, let’s pay our respects at the Tempe Healing Field on this 20th anniversary.

— Doug Royse, Tempe businessman


Michael Pollack

Dates that live in our minds are often a reflection of the significance that they hold for us, whether it’s a wedding, birth of a child, or painful loss of a loved one. The anniversary of September 11, 2001 is a time for remembrance and reflection, honoring the heroes, victims, and loved ones.

I think it’s important to honor the memories of all of those who lost their lives by also remembering the resilience and strength of communities that came together to grieve, to work, to offer support and condolences side by side putting all differences between them out of their minds.

To honor this day let’s reflect on what was accomplished when cities, communities, and neighborhoods worked as one to bring our country back together after the heartbreak that will forever live in our hearts and minds.

Although time will continue to dull the sharp pain of the tragic events that transpired on 9/11 the victims will never be forgotten as long as we keep them in our hearts and prayers.

We must remain diligent in our efforts to protect the greatest country in the world “The United States of America”.

— Michael Pollack, real estate and shopping center developer


Bill Meiter

America, since its inception, has stood a beacon of freedom and liberty to the entire world. Regardless of attacks foreign or domestic, America continues to stand tall as the freest, most prosperous, and most generous nation to ever exist. The terrorists on 9/11 tried to bring America to its knees, when all they truly did was galvanize a nation together. But the very thing the terrorists tried to do (divide our nation) is happening internally as our country is being split from within. A radically godless and Marxist’s ideology has swept through our schools and universities leading the younger generation to now “hate” that for which America has always stood. Worse yet, our country has all but abandoned our belief in God. May 9/11 be a reminder, that freedom isn’t free…liberty must be cherished…and blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).

— Bill Meiter, Lead Pastor, Arizona Community Church


Donna Killoughey

Twenty years after 9/11, we asked for reflections on that fateful day . . . here are thoughts from the people who shared with us

Although it is somber, my children and I are peaceful and filled with joy at the years we had with Gary and the manner in which we have survived and bonded as the successor family. My two children will be with me on the 11th this year. We will be in San Diego for the weekend and are currently planning something perfectly appropriate to remember dad and figure out how to move forward joyfully.

— Donna Killoughey, whose husband Gary perished at the World Trade Center 


Andrew Bird

Twenty years after the day so many of us remember as so devastating and terrifying to the U.S.—and more importantly, to us and our loved ones—of course we haven’t forgotten, given we were around to experience it as it unfolded. It would be downright unjust to forget at all. It is likely that most of us remember that day as saddening, fearful, angering, or worrisome. And yet there is so much more to glean from that fateful collective experience that many of us, still yet to this day, fail to recognize: how incredibly blessed we are to have experienced that together.

We sometimes fail to recognize that, through the terrible lens of the events themselves and perhaps those we choose to blame, we as a nation were given a beautiful opportunity to respond with grace, humility, and fellowship, ultimately placing us all in a position to heal, to learn, and to grow collectively as a nation. Painful experiences such as September 11th prove to be, more often than not, the firm foundation upon which we become stronger, bolder, and wiser, as individuals, as communities, and as a nation.

Having lost my father in these attacks, I feel deeply linked with this collective pain, and a duty to do whatever I can to help our nation heal. This year, as a man who has taken full advantage of the opportunity granted to him to heal from this traumatizing experience, I challenge anyone reading this to adopt this perspective of that fateful day. I challenge you to do whatever is necessary to extract the beautiful, the graceful, the benevolently meaningful, from that day. And I challenge you to deeply reflect on how that elusive perspective can most certainly be applied in our society and in our individual lives today — to see the parallels as far as collective pain and struggle, economic and political divisiveness, societal and international crises, as well as the countless other points of contention that plague our country today. Ask yourself: has this divisiveness benefitted us at all in the past, in the context of September 11th? In what world can those divides between us benefit us as a nation with what we struggle with in 2021? How can I, as a citizen and steward of this country, ensure that our nation— myself, my loved ones, and my fellows—can learn how to experience the world through this perspective of grace, humility, and fellowship, and again be a living example of collective healing and cooperation?

I believe I speak for many of us today when I say that we feel lost, confused, and a bit fearful of what the future holds. Yet I still deeply believe in the power that we as a nation exhibited on September 11, 2001. I deeply believe that, with that power on our side, we can transform these feelings of confusion and fear into deeply meaningful and mutually beneficial action towards creating the ideal America once more. We can use the pain and struggle that we all felt on that day — and more importantly, what we learned and how strong we became— to overcome the divisive issues which plague our nation, and become yet much stronger and united.

— Andrew Bird, whose father Gary Bird perished at the World Trade Center


September 11th Healing Field Memorial, Tempe Beach Park, through Sept. 12

The 20th annual Tempe Healing Field tribute is running Sept. 10-12 at Tempe Beach Park. Live broadcast will be available on the Healing Field Memorial Facebook page. The reading of the names of the victims begins at 5:46 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, the time that the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Healing Field Tribute: 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. The public is welcome to join in reading the names.

Candlelight Vigil: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, includes ceremony, speakers, candlelight vigil.

Tunnel to Towers 5k Run/Walk: 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, Tempe Beach Park.

Information: tempehealingfield.org



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