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Phoenix mayor: National unity should be legacy of 9/11

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PHOENIX – The national unity that followed the events of Sept. 11, 2001, can be a valuable lesson to take from that tragic day, Mayor Greg Stanton said Tuesday.

“During that time after 9/11, we as people of this country were not one political party or the other. We came together in common spirit and a common cause,” Stanton said during a commemoration at City Hall. “And oh, couldn’t we use that spirit here today with the division we see in our country.”

Eleven years after the tragedy in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., officials and residents of the nation’s sixth-largest city gathered to remember the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost.

“We honor the fathers, we honor the mothers, the sons, daughters, co-workers, neighbors and friends that were taken from us that tragic morning,” Stanton said.

City Manager David Cavazos focused on the heroes who emerged that day, praising the Phoenix counterparts of those firefighters and police officers who answered the call.

“I know that if something like that ever happened in Phoenix we would have had the same response,” Cavazos said.

Gordon Cunningham, commander of the Fire Department Honor Guard, introduced the traditional ringing of a bell to commemorate the hundreds of public servants who died in the line of duty.

“To those who gave their lives for the good of their fellow citizens, let us bring them home once again on this occasion,” he said. “Your tasks are now complete. Your earthly duties, you have very well done. The bells and the pipes now toll for you. You are going home.”

After the bell rang out in five sets of four tolls, a lone trumpet filled the atrium with the strains of “Taps.” Stanton and members of the City Council then laid a memorial wreath on the bell as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

Stanton said Phoenix residents shouldn’t be shy in expressing gratitude toward Phoenix’s firefighters and police officers.

“As we honor the lives lost that day, please take the time, if you see a police officer at a restaurant or a grocery store, if you see a firefighter in the community, make sure you say ‘thank you’ to them,” he said. “‘Thank you’ for what they do for our safety here in our city every single day.”

Gov. Jan Brewer issued a statement calling for state flags to be flown half-staff Tuesday and declaring that America hasn’t been cowed by the attacks.

“Far from defeating us, the blow of 9/11 has only buoyed our nation and strengthened our resolve,” Brewer’s statement said. “Eleven years later, perhaps this is the most fitting tribute that could be offered to the victims of that day.”