The Words of the Yakawich Family

Montana's 9/11 Ceremony Featured Healing and Forgiveness

Mike Yakawich
September 11, 2010

On Saturday, September 11, 2010, the 9th Annual September 11th Memorial Service was conducted at the Yellowstone County Courthouse Lawn in Billings, Montana. More than 150 people participated in this annual event. The weather was fantastic, the spirit uplifting, and the crowd patriotic and solemn. It was the best turnout and most memorable 9-11 memorial we have had so far.

Organized by the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) of Montana, The U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, U.S. Army National Guard, The All Nations Christian Fellowship Church, and many other community organizations made this event successful. Mayor Hanel commented, "It's a day to celebrate life and to remember the freedoms we hold so dear."

It was a special day to honor America's men and women of service. We had a presentation of colors by four members of the Marine Corps Honor Guard. George Blackard, Commandant for the United Veterans Council then led the Pledge of Allegiance. Koree MacMurdie, a Rocky Mountain College student, sang a wonderful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. We then had prayers from Pastor Melvin Terry, our co-chair of Montana's ACLC, and Rev. Ron Palmer of the Free Will Baptist Church. They prayed "that the hand of God may guide our nation." The entire program was prayerful and inspiring as we remembered all those affected by the September 11, 2001 tragedy. It was indeed a celebration of life!

This year's memorial event was exceptional with the attendance of 40 U.S. Army National Guard soldiers who jogged into the courthouse lawn minutes before the program began. As a "Remembrance Run", the troop solemnly entered and stood at attention as the program began. Commissioner Bill Kennedy welcomed all, praised our troops, firemen and police and expressed his appreciation to ACLC for annually sponsoring this 9/11 program.

Mr. Jim Corson, a representative of U.S. Senator Max Baucus, did an excellent job offering encouraging words. A highlight of this year's program was to have Rachel Lammers, a survivor of 9/11 now living in Billings, share from her heart regarding what happened to her that day in New York. "I survived nine hours in the basement of Tower II after which a US Marine dug through car parts, body parts and building parts to rescue me. I will be forever indebted. Great love was shown that day!"

On this 9/11, it was a great coalition of races, cultures, religions and political affiliations bonded by a love for this country. People gathered and brought one spirit of compassion, forgiveness and celebration of life. Naomi and John Yakawich did a fantastic duet, respectfully performing God Bless the USA with flute and trumpet.

In closing, a Marine Corps trumpeter performed the "Taps". At that same time, the youth in attendance released red, white and blue balloons into the air symbolizing all of us sending our prayers to heaven for all victims of 9/11. Then everyone mingled and talked as homemade refreshments were enjoyed. The weather was great and the spiritual atmosphere very high.

The news media was a big support. Both the NBC and ABC affiliates also did an excellent coverage of the program and aired it on the 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. nightly news on Sept. 11th. We received coverage from the Billings Gazette on video and on Sunday, September 12, 2010, "A time to heal, hundreds attend city's 9/11 remembrances."

We are very thankful to the Thiessen, Martin, Yakawich, Felig, MacMurdie, Woods and DiLorenzo families who worked very hard behind the scenes setting up chairs, tables, and refreshments for all those in attendance. Two moms even baked dozens of cookies for this event. They all were a "vital support" for this event's success. We felt the healing love of God, Lord Jesus and our True Family in our gathering and we are so grateful for Rev. Larry Krishnek's prayers, guidance and support of this annual event.

Contributed by Pastor Mike Yakawich in Billings, Montana. 

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