By the Gazette Editorial Board
Today we mark the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
We remember the thousands of innocent victims; we remember their families and friends left behind.
We remember the horror, the shock of those first few hours as the details became known.
And we remember how the nation came together not only to grieve, but to stand together — to stand up for our freedom and what it requires.
As then-President George W. Bush told a stunned nation that day: “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”
Nine years later, we’re reminded that it’s as important as ever to stand up against extremism, regardless of its source; to refuse to allow the loud, few voices of intolerance drown out the soft, calm voices of reasonable people who understand that there is strength and security in tolerance of different religions.
Religious freedom is one of the foundations of our country. Respect for the peaceful practice of any faith is one of our country’s greatest gifts.
That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, as the recent controversy over the proposed Park51 mosque and community center two blocks away from the World Trade Center site in New York.
When it comes to principles of freedom and tolerance, it’s sometimes painfully clear that while we have traveled far, there is still far to go.
Reasonable people are ashamed by extremists’ suggestion that Christians burn Qurans or otherwise try to lay blame for the 9/11 attacks at the feet of an entire faith, rather than al-Qaida.
But even though they far outnumber the shrill claims of extremism, those reasonable voices sometimes can be hard to hear.
Hear them, we must.
We are grateful to Corridor area religious leaders who are promoting civil, interfaith dialogue.
Today, an interfaith program of unity and diversity is being hosted by the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, the Cedar Rapids Muslim community and congregation of Temple Judah. The event, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, 2999 First Ave. SW., will include prayers and discussion, a food drive, a remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001 and celebration of the end of Ramadan. As Tim Hyatt, director of public relations for the Islamic Center, told a Gazette reporter: “We’ve got a lot of things going on here.”
What else would you expect in a rich, complicated interfaith society?
But most important, we think, the event shows a local commitment to unity and tolerance, even when it isn’t easy.
Because as we’ve learned, that’s when it’s most important.