The flickering lights from thousands of candles penetrated the dusk Wednesday, and the sound of thousands of voices joined in "America the Beautiful" rose into the evening sky at Cheney Stadium.
The moment mirrored countless others across the nation and the South Sound, as people gathered to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks with gestures large and small.
"I knew that I didn't want to stay at home," said Susan Hall, who drove from Olympia to attend the Tacoma event, called "9:11: A Day of Memory, Hope and Action."
"I wanted to be with other people, to feel the camaraderie," she said.
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Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy joined in prayers for those who died and those who carry on. Local residents who were part of the initial rescue and cleanup efforts in New York City shared their experiences and the lessons learned.
"Keep your loved ones close to you and hug them every day," said Steve Brown of the American Red Cross of Tacoma-Pierce County.
Eight-year-old Jacob Glickman received a standing ovation from the crowd of 4,000 as he read a letter he wrote urging President Bush to make Sept. 11 a national holiday promoting peace.
As the names of the 3,000 victims scrolled silently across the baseball stadium scoreboard, several Pierce County residents stepped to the microphone to relate how Glickman's sentiment had inspired them to do something to help others in the name of those who died. One man donated blood and volunteered at the blood bank. A woman pulled weeds at a community garden; another donated money to a fund for Afghan girls.
"Make this a day that makes a difference," said Jeni Gregory, a local mental health counselor who helped firefighters and police in New York City cope with the tragedy. "Make it a day of action, and live your life to be a sentinel of hope to others."
About 700 soldiers gathered at 5 a.m. - early even by Army standards - to dedicate a memorial stone at Fort Lewis' "Iron Mike" statue and to pause for a moment of silence to remember the victims of Sept. 11.
The beveled granite monument, donated by Fort Lewis firefighters, is inscribed with the words of President Bush: "We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail."
The memorial is meant to recognize "all those who provide us a safe and secure environment," said Lt. Gen. Edward Soriano, the fort commander. "They are in harm's way, fighting the global war on terrorism."
Hundreds of Fort Lewis soldiers have been deployed around the world in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Airborne medic Sgt. Aaron McGowen was shipped out just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. His unit, the 250th Forward Surgical Team, spent six months in Afghanistan.
McGowen, a 30-year-old father of two, said he sees the world a little differently since his return home from the war zone.
"When I got back I sold my motorcycle, bought a car. I relax. I count to 10 now instead of just three," said McGowen, a 30-year-old father of two.
"This whole experience has changed my life. Spiritually. With my family. I don't take things for granted anymore. ... I can never forget, and I'll never forget why I was there."
Red and blue lights flashed in the clear morning sky Wednesday as Tacoma firefighters across the city pulled their rigs onto their driveways at precisely 7 a.m.
At 7:05, every firehouse flag in Tacoma was raised, then lowered to half-staff as firefighters saluted.
The firefighter's last call - the solemn signal honoring a firefighter lost in the line of duty - went out over the airwaves in tribute to those who died when the first World Trade Center tower went down.
Three bells. A pause, then three more bells. A pause, and three more, nine in all, for a firefighter who will never return to his or her station.
"I've heard that sound a few times over the years, and it always brings moisture to my eyes," said deputy fire chief Gary Schiesz.
After the tribute, the firefighters prayer was broadcast to Tacoma's fire stations.
Their arms stuffed with tiny American flags, firefighters then fanned out through their neighborhoods, handing out the miniature versions of Old Glory to motorists and pedestrians.
At 7:28, they were back at their stations, repeating the firefighter's last call and flag-raising to honor their brothers who died in the collapse of the second tower.
The solemn task complete, they went back to work, waiting for the fire bell to ring.
White-gloved firefighters and police officers brought their right hands crisply to the glossy black brims of their ceremonial caps Wednesday morning as the largest flag in Tacoma slowly rose to the peak of its 100-foot pole, then was solemnly lowered to half-staff.
The gnarled hands of elderly men and women went to their hearts in salute, too, as did the tiny-fingered hands of children.
At times, civilian hands slipped from salute level to eye level, wiping away tears of sorrow, tears of remembrance.
All 1,500 or so souls gathered at Thea's Park in downtown Tacoma wanted to be clear-eyed to witness the raising of the Harbor Flag.
The 20-by-38-foot U.S. flag, a steel globe with stars representing Tacoma's sister cities and a ceremonial pole proclaiming "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in 12 languages were dedicated in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on America.
The $150,000 flag plaza was funded by donations and sponsored by the City of Tacoma and the Metropolitan Park District.
"We have created a place where we will remember the past," said City Councilman Bill Evans, who led the project. "But it's also a place where all of us will dream dreams of the good we can do in the world."
Shannon Clapp, an 18-year-old member of the Tahoma Girls' Choir, said her part of the program "made me feel useful. Like I was doing something for somebody."
"Let there be peace on earth, let this be the moment now," they sang. "With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow.
"To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."
Wednesday, patrons at Tacoma's Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art created international symbols of peace.
Artist Renee Cortese helped visitors fold origami paper cranes, which were to be gathered and floated on the museum's outdoor reflecting pools.
Children in Japan started the tradition of folding paper cranes for peace in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing.
Paula Perkins of Redmond wrote a wish for peace for Sept. 11 survivors on a sheet of origami paper, then folded her wish inside her crane.
Her friend, Bernice Longmire, turned away as tears welled in her eyes.
"It's real sad for the families," Longmire said. "You send your husband to work, and he's gone and you've got three kids and you think, 'What am I going to do now?'"
Helen Lin of University Place, a kindergarten teacher from Taiwan who once lived in New York, folded an orange crane, then helped her husband and aunt fold theirs.
The cranes have special significance in Lin's family. During the Persian Gulf War, her daughter folded them to help her and her siblings count the days while their father served in the Army.
Reflecting on the Sept. 11 tragedy, Helen Lin wondered about the terrorists: "How can people be so cold?"
Silence filled the Mas'alah Muslim Center for long stretches Wednesday afternoon.
Those who visited the Tacoma mosque took their shoes off, padded their way across the green carpet and found chairs. Those who prayed did so bowing and kneeling. And everyone listened to the rhythmic sound of prayers spoken in Arabic.
But the mosque's Patriot's Day Commemoration did not end quietly. Tacoma police officers and firefighters received plaques in tribute to public safety officers and in commemoration of those who were killed one year ago.
The meaning of Sept. 11 emerged from strong, heartfelt words as Imam Hajji M. Bayyan Muhammad spoke of trusting in God and loving your fellow man.
And, in the end, those who filled the small mosque on Martin Luther King Jr. Way - about 15 people - communed over cookies, muffins and soda pop.
Tacoma police Lt. Fred Scruggs, who is in charge of Sector 1, including the Hilltop, downtown, Tideflats and Northeast Tacoma, accepted a plaque on behalf of the police department.
The veteran police officer has seen plenty of street violence, but the violence of Sept. 11 shook him like nothing before.
"It was an attack on this country that was unimaginable," he said. "You can't fathom it. It was totally out of the realm of what you're used to."
Muhammad, who led the afternoon's prayers and commemoration, said Sept. 11 horrified the nation but also brought people of different faiths and backgrounds together.
"Everybody had one idea," he said, "to try to help and save human beings."
Muhammad said there are countries where he would "not be permitted to make this speech. We should be proud of this country. We have inalienable rights."
Muhammad said the Quran condemns terrorism.
"The Quran says it is only the devil who would make men fear his partisans," he said.
"Islam is not subjugation," he added. "It never has been. It teaches man to fear God only, and if we fear God, we'll have right conduct toward human beings."
He also spoke about the terrorists who stole lives by crashing planes into American buildings.
"They committed suicide, and it was not for a godly cause," Muhammad said. "It wasn't for compassion and love for other people."
Then he paused for a moment.
"It was invalid," he said emphatically. "They made themselves invalid to God."
Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." provided bookends for Federal Way's tribute to those killed in the terrorist attacks.
At the beginning of the ceremony, the Harmony Kings, a Federal Way-based barbershop chorus, and a men's chorus sang the country singer's patriotic anthem.
At the end, members of Girl Scout Troop 421 lent their voices to the defiant song.
Solemnness, silence and tears consumed everything in between the 33-minute ceremony at Celebration Park.
Members of the city's fire and public safety departments lead prayers and read the names of firefighters, police officers and Port Authority personnel who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
They read name after name: Martins and Kevins and Matthews and Patricks.
Mayor Jeanne Burbidge urged residents to care for each other through acts of selflessness.
"Our well-being is dependent on each other as human beings," she said.
At 7:06 a.m., the American flag - lowered to half-staff - dangled from a looming pole around which numerous people had gathered.
Shortly after 7:28 a.m., a member of the color guard began raising the flag.
It climbed slowly to the top, where it stayed.
Last year, thousands of people filed into the Puyallup Fair's grandstand for a grim ceremony marking the deaths of the 3,000 killed on Sept. 11.
Wednesday, on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the 10,815-seat grandstand again was filled.
But this time somberness didn't overwhelm the 60-minute tribute. Cups of coffee and onion burgers replaced the tissues and handkerchiefs that wiped many tears last year.
At moments the audience got up an cheered.
"There's too much on television and radio, and they are not that uplifting," said Donna Greiner of Summit. "This is more so."
Even before the 11 a.m. event, participants stood and raised their hands and voices as local firefighters used ladder trucks to hoist a large American flag next to the grandstand stage.
A young boy, standing on his chair, squinted as he looked into the bright sunshine at the flag. Behind him, thousands of others held small flags.
Once the ceremony began the crowd heard from local military leaders and the band from Travis Air Force Base in California.
At end of the hourlong memorial, a C-17 cargo plane - just back at McChord Air Force Base from Afghanistan - flew over the grandstand. The audience stood and chanted, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! ..."
As in the days following the last Sept. 11, hats, 'do rags and shirts sporting the American flag peppered the grandstands as Chicago played the Puyallup Fair.
But the atmosphere Wednesday night was far removed from the band's performance at the fair on Sept. 12 of last year. More than 7,800 were on hand this year, 1,100 more than in 2001, and the fans were in much higher spirits. They erupted in raucous approval as the band picked through its immense catalog of upbeat, jazzy rock and power ballads - old hits like "Make Me Smile" and "You're the Inspiration."
Trombone player Jim Pankow paused to recall a conversation with his mother last fall, during which he told her that he didn't think he could perform.
"Without skipping a beat, my mother jumped down my throat," Pankow said.
She reminded him of how musicians like Benny Goodman had helped Americans heal in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, he said.
Later, bandmate Walt Parazaider talked about his own apprehension.
"I just remember standing backstage and wondering out loud ... if I could do this," the saxophone player said. "I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a little afraid at how people would receive us."
"Here we are a year later, and I'm looking at a lot of smiling faces," he said, before rousing the crowd by shouting, "God bless America and long live rock 'n' roll!"
Among the crowd were about 1,000 local firefighters, police and soldiers, who had received free tickets from KBSG (97.3 FM) as part of their "Hometown Heroes" giveaway.
Inside a salon Wednesday on Seattle's Fourth Avenue, hairdresser Marion Winnier heard her boss yell from the sidewalk that the Sept. 11 memorial march was half a block away.
Winnier wrapped a towel atop Candy Lawson's half-shampooed head, grabbed an American flag and headed outside.
"Just out here, showing support for everyone who's not afraid," Winnier said, watching a quiet parade that included an honor guard, dress-uniformed firefighters and police, Gov. Gary Locke and a few blocks worth of regular folks.
This was the procession part of the Washington State September 11 Memorial & Procession, which began at noon with songs, speeches and prayers outside Westlake Center.
In his speech, the governor urged Washingtonians to honor terror's victims with action: "Each do one tangible, real thing to improve our community, our state, our nation.
"Help a stranger. Help a neighbor. Today."
Maggie Hobert, 51, of Enumclaw wore a flag-print shirt to the memorial. Earlier, she'd been one of more than 10,000 people who came to Safeco Field for a performance of Mozart's Requiem.
Summing up her day in Seattle, she felt good "that I participated, that I took part, that I didn't sit in front of the boob tube."
The post-memorial march ended at the Seattle Center's International Fountain, where Red Cross volunteers handed out baggies. Each held a tulip bulb and compost made from the estimated 1 million flowers that mourners brought to the fountain a year ago.
During a ceremony there Wednesday, the only challenges to silence came from the flutter of flags, the faint whine of saws from a construction site and a man's soon-aborted attempt to start a "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" chant.
Afterward, Seattle nurse Sherry Grebe and other marchers milled around the dry basin that surrounds the fountain. Dressed in red, white and blue, Grebe stopped at a floral wreath that served as a nest for some Sept. 11 remembrances.
She read intently from a folder labeled "2nd Grade Prayers from St. George School," containing children's writings from just after the attacks.
"It really moved me that they would offer prayers for the terrorists to be blessed and not do things like this again," she said, eyes brimming.
As the setting sun lit Mount Rainier, several thousand South King County residents participated the two-hour "September 11 Remembrance Ceremony" Wednesday evening at Emerald Downs in Auburn.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen led an eclectic service organized by the city governments and fire and police departments of Auburn, Federal Way, Kent and Tukwila.
The Auburn Symphony Orchestra and the September 11 Remembrance Choir performed several patriotic numbers, and police and fire department honor guards presented memorial wreaths and flags.
"We're here to reflect, honor and remember," Auburn Police Chief Jim Kelly told the crowd.
Owen thanked the dozens of uniformed civil servants present, saying, "We do not need to search for heroes; they are right here among us."
Auburn firefighters gave a 21-bell salute and passed out candles to the audience. As night fell, stadium lights dimmed, and the crowd, with candles lit, observed a moment of silence. A bugler played "Taps," and the Auburn Police Department rifle team fired three volleys into the night.
Tukwila police bagpiper Kraig Boyd and drummer Larry Hann played "Amazing Grace" and other songs.
Near the close of the ceremony, the crowd roared while the choir sang "God Bless the U.S.A." and a large fireworks flag lit up at mid-field.
"It's good to look around and see our communities standing shoulder to shoulder," said Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis.
SUNDAY: South Sound residents weigh the changes in their lives since the attacks.
MONDAY: Accepting the burden of increased precautions to gain a sense of safety.
TUESDAY: Last installment of Closer to Home series.
WEDNESDAY: Look back at a day that tore the nation's heart.
TODAY: From ground zero to the South Sound, we remember.