WASHINGTON – On the second anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks, some Marylanders opted for alternative — albeit sincere — ways to commemorate the day.
While people across the country attended solemn speeches, prayer services and candlelight vigils, Baltimore businessman Craig Shotwell hosted an arm-wrestling tournament to raise funds for the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, the Baltimore City Widows and Orphans Fund and the USO.
“You feel helpless when you can’t do something to help — especially men,” said Shotwell. “Arm wrestling is a sport I have always admired, that anyone can do. . . . It allows the public to get physically involved and make a difference.”
“I feel like if we mourn in sorrow every 9/11 or stay inside, in a way the terrorists won,” he said.
His was just one of the many less-somber events across the state, which included rides, readings and teach-ins. Buell Harley-Davidson is organizing a motorcycle fund-raising ride around the Baltimore Beltway on Sunday, for example, while University of Maryland law students held a civil liberties and racial profiling teach-in Thursday.
Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who was scheduled to attend a memorial service Thursday night at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, began the day by leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the popular Chick & Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis. At Villa Julie College, children’s author Chandra Fernando read from her latest book, “A Little Book of Peace,” which was inspired by the events of Sept. 11.
The owners of Charm City Run, a running-goods shop, held their second annual 5-kilometer “Run to Remember” race through downtown Baltimore Thursday. Shop owners Josh Levinson and Dave Cooley said they began thinking of ways to commemorate Sept. 11 shortly after the 2001 attacks.
“We thought, ‘Do you want to sit at home and sulk or are you going to start out the day downtown with the police and firefighters and not only remember the victims but say thank you to them (emergency workers) before something like that happens here,” Levinson said.
While it is “very important” to remember the day, he said, he agreed with Shotwell that Sept. 11 events should also celebrate life and freedom. He said his company plans to hold an annual Run to Remember race “until interest runs out.”
“Should these events be classy? Absolutely. Should they be serious? Absolutely. But should we smile? Absolutely,” Levinson said.
At Salisbury University, students marked the day by reading the Gettysburg Address aloud.
“It’s interesting that we see more varied kinds of celebrations” on Sept. 11, said Tim O’Rourke, dean of the university’s Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “It’s not a day that’s a holiday so people have come up with innovative ways to mark the day . . . and maybe in some ways, more heartfelt celebrations.”
Fernando, the children’s book author, said it is just as important to find new ways of healing as it is to maintain the traditional ways.
“Rituals are important, but rituals themselves don’t solve the problem,” she said. “Both are very important for our healing, but we need to reaffirm our commitment to the human values of empathy, goodwill and harmony.”