15 years after Sept. 11, 2001, memorials across the Berkshires seek to inspire people to 'love each other in peace'


Photo Gallery | 9/11 Memorial Mass at St. Charles Church

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire County did not forget.

Places of worship located the length and breadth of Berkshire County on Sunday hosted services of remembrance on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the deadliest such attacks on American soil in history.

In Pittsfield, Mayor Linda Tyer, Councillor Peter Marchetti and local police, firefighters and emergency responders led a procession into St. Charles Church on Briggs Avenue on Sunday morning at 11:15 a.m.

An hour earlier, the First Baptist Church of Pittsfield hosted an ecumenical service with members of Temple Anshe Amunim. Later those two congregations joined with members of Sacred Heart Church for another ecumenical service at 3 p.m. at Sacred Heart.

Also at 10 a.m., the Right Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, preached and presided over a service at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church at 67 East St.

At St. Charles, Tyer, Marchetti and the contingent of police, firemen and responders were greeted with an emotional version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" as they entered the church.

When everyone was seated, the Rev. Peter Gregory, pastor of St. Charles, welcomed the group, saying, "We are a people of hope, because we have God's great mercy upon us."

In his homily, Gregory laid a parallel between Sept. 11, 2001 and Dec. 7, 1941, the day Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

"Both are days that will live in infamy," said Gregory.

"We are not people of despair," he continued. "We hear of all the violence in the world from the media, but we know that if all the good deeds in the world were written about, it would fill all the pages in the newspaper.

"We have faith and trust in our great country," he said. "And we have faith and love in the men and women who protect us."

At the First Baptist Church, the Rev, Sheila Sholes-Ross welcomed "my dear friend and brother" Rabbi Joshua Breindel and his followers to the church.

In this ceremony, the opening hymn was all four verses of "America the Beautiful."

Later, Breindel spoke.

"Jesus was asked, 'What is the best commandment?'" said Breindel. "And he said, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.'

"When we love each other in peace, the love of God is with us," he continued.

Breindel then recited the 23rd Psalm, known by Christians as the "Lord Is My Shepard" psalm. Breindel first recited it in Hebrew, then led the group in it's English recitation.

Sholes-Ross welcomed the emergency personnel to the church, reminding the audience that the efforts of policemen, firemen and EMTs are extended to all people, not just people with whom they agree, or people who look like them.

"Being a First Responder does not mean we comfort only those who look like us or sound like us," she said.

"Sept. 11 was painful," she continued. "But we cannot refuse to comfort those who do not look like us or talk like us or smell like us.

"We stand united," she said. "And when that happens, there is peace."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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