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St. Luke Remembers 911
by William Lee - Staff Writer
Source: The Daily Southtown - Date: September 12th, 2006

Like it was yesterday, the Rev. Andrew Harrison remembers where he was when he heard about the September 2001 attacks.

On that fateful day, the pastor of St. Luke Orthodox Church in Palos Hills recalled hearing accounts of the attack on the radio while returning home from morning services.

During a special memorial service Monday night, commemorating the attacks and fallen American soldiers, Harrison recalled his initial rush of anger against the then-unknown enemies, followed by a feeling of sorrow.

Since then, Harrison has made it his mission to honor those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

His quest resulted in his church, 10700 S. Kean Ave., receiving several 9-11 items, including a steel beam from the World Trade Center and stones from the field where United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.

On Monday night, those items were displayed at the church's altar while various speakers called on the audience to remember the lessons of the attacks.

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett also recalled a mixture of confusion and anger upon hearing of the terrorist attacks. He implored audience members to never allow 9-11 to become just another day.

The hourlong program at St. Luke was thick with pro-American themes and calls for residents to stay the course against terrorism. Addresses to the crowd were punctuated with singing of patriotic standards such as the "Star Spangled Banner," "God Bless America" and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The evening's keynote speaker was Army Reserve Brigadier Gen. William Kirkland, the commanding officer of a training center in Wisconsin.

In his comments to the crowd, Kirkland, a 31-year Army veteran, strongly supported the war in Iraq. He also was unflinching in speaking of his religious faith, despite what he called pressure to remove faith from the public.

"I'm not big into any of that," Kirkland said. "I believe in God, I pray to him every night and pray that our soldiers come home."

The Sept. 11 attacks, he said, qualify as one of America's days of infamy, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"The questions will be if we will cower and run and hide," Kirkland said. "It's against our nature as Americans to run and hide. I would rather die then run and hide."

After Kirkland's speech, two members of the local Civil Air Patrol read the name of the 101 Illinois servicemen and women who have died during the past year while serving their country.

Harrison said he was surprised at the level of support he has received in bringing the terrorist attacks relics to his church. He hopes the items will help keep the attacks at the forefront of his parishioners' minds.

"If we continue to ignore the past, we will relive it," Harrison said. "No one wants to live Sept. 11, 2001, again."

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