A day America will never forget

The Notre Dame de Sion High School choir sings the National Anthem during the 9/11 Memorial Service at Legacy Garden, Mount Olivet Cemetery. Master of Ceremonies Mark Alford commented, “Many of the choir had not yet been born on Sept. 11, 2001.” (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY – September 11, 2001. A normal Tuesday morning until terrorism and tragedy struck New York City, Arlington, Va., and a field near Shanksville, Penn.

History recorded the horrific details of four passenger airplanes hijacked by 19 Islamic terrorists, two of which were crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon. The fourth, headed for Washington D.C., was crashed into the field when its passengers thwarted the terrorist plan.

The single deadliest terror attack in all of history left 2,996 dead – the victims, police and firefighters and the 19 hijackers. There were also 6,000 injured and many cases of respiratory diseases and cancers attributable to the destruction of the buildings and the airplane crashes.

It’s been 18 years since the day that, to borrow a Franklin D. Roosevelt phrase, for many Americans will live in infamy. Across the nation, memorials are held to honor and remember those who died.

As the sun inched its way lower in the sky over Kansas City, a soft, early evening light hovered over those gathered in the Legacy Garden at Mount Olivet Cemetery for the annual 9-11 Remembrance service. The event, now in its third year, was sponsored by the Catholic Cemeteries of Kansas City-St. Joseph and hosted by Muehlebach and Passantino Brothers funeral homes and takes place at the First Responder Memorial.

As attendees arrived and found seats, the American Legion Band played. Master of Ceremonies Mark Alford of Fox-4 News introduced the speakers and parts of the service, keeping it all running smoothly.

Steve Pierce of Muehlebach Funeral Care welcomed the participants and the attendees. As the Color Guard, made up of officers of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, members of American Legion Post 189, officers of the Kansas City Fire Department, and representatives of Disabled American Veterans, coalesced to process to the memorial, John Tootle played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

The Color Guard, bearing the United States, Missouri and MIA (Missing in Action) flags, marched by twos to the front of the memorial then separated to stand at attention on either side of the rows of seats.

David Baker of American Legion Post 189 led the Pledge of Allegiance. He was followed by Deacon Mike Lewis of St. Patrick (North) Parish and Kansas City Fire Department Associate Chaplain, led the invocation.

“God of the Selfless, God of the Strong and brave,

Grant a perfect rest among the souls of the righteous to those who died in service to others during the tragic day of Sept. 11 and all days where the courage and dedication of these men and women is called upon to protect our families.

Bless the souls of all who have died to save others in every age and in every land, men and women who answered the call of honor, duty and service.

May their memories be sanctified with joy and love. May their souls be joined with all generations of the strong and the brave who now live with their ancestors and saint.

They are a living blessing in our midst, and may their names be forever inscribed on the walls of Heaven. Amen.”

Several speakers stepped forward to offer their reflections on 9/11, including Kansas City Deputy Police Chief Roger A. Lewis; Kansas City Deputy Fire Chief Joh Baker, Kansas City Mayor Quintan Lucas and Commander John Williams, American Legion Post 189.

Following the reflections, Mayor Lucas was joined by KCPD Deputy Chief Lewis, a Kansas City firefighter, Commander Mike Sweeney, American Legion District Five and the District Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The five men carried floral wreaths to the memorial and positioned them on the stands.

A moment of silence was called.

The Notre Dame de Sion High School choir sang the National Anthem followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Then the Fire Volley Salute. Police and American Legion Post 189 members fired the salute, a ceremonial act performed by an honor guard or military police, dating back to the European dynastic wars. A volley of three shots were fired so that the battlefields could be cleared of the dead and wounded. Three more shots indicated the battle could resume. Today it symbolizes the end of the battle for the dead.

The Tolling of the Bells, a 200-year custom of firefighters, was done by Tim Sheil of the Kansas City Fire Department. The bell was rung in a series of three rings three times, with the final ring allowed to fade. Sheil said it symbolized the last alarm for the dead had sounded and now they could go home, to heaven.

“Taps” was performed by Ed Bliefnick of American Legion Post 189, then Charlie Passantino closed the service. The Color Guards were dismissed. “Wings” and “The Rowan Tree” were played by John Tootle on his bagpipes.

A brief reception followed the service.


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October 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph