It was a nearly perfect, peaceful evening on a truly horrific anniversary.
Ten years after 9/11, Midlanders headed to Turner Park on Sunday to remember what happened and honor the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks. They sported their best red, white and blue, sang patriotic tunes, watched military aircraft fly overhead and, several said, finally felt like things were OK.
“It's a very positive way to remember,” said Omahan Madeline Petrocchi. “It's amazing how many connections 9/11 has to this community.”
The ceremony and free 90-minute concert was a team effort by the Omaha Symphony and the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band, which performed together. The song list ranged from the Star Spangled Banner to “New York, New York.”
Vocalist Ronan Tynan, a former member of The Irish Tenors, sang Bruce Springsteen's “Into the Fire,” which got him a roaring standing ovation from the flag-waving crowd. He dedicated the song to police officers and firefighters.
The United States, in the years since the terrorist attacks, “showed the rest of the world what a great country you are — that you can rise,” Tynan said.
While attendance figures were unavailable Sunday night, the audience appeared to surpass the roughly 9,000 who attended Jazz on the Green, held at Turner Park every week during the summer.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle and Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan were there.
The crowd was solemn at times, jubilant at others.
During the Star Spangled Banner, they looked into the sky as they sang, watching aircraft from Offutt Air Force Base's 55th Wing.
When one got particularly low, the crowed began to cheer.
“USA” was clearly visible on the underside of the jet.
“We must do more than simply remember the victims,” said Col. Daniel J. Courtois, 55th Maintenance Group Commander, 55th Wing. “We must stay united to prevent more attacks. When we face the worst, we are at our best.”
Tynan wrapped up the evening with a goosebump-inducing rendition of “God Bless America,” and the audience joined in.
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