By CHRIS COLLINS
Of the Baker City Herald
Baker City Police officers had one ear tuned to their police radios and one tuned to Father Rob Irwin at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral Thursday morning.
The officers, seated at the rear of the church in case they needed to leave in a hurry, were among about a dozen emergency service workers who attended a morning Mass at the church.
Police, fire and ambulance workers were honored during the service, which also commemorated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people. About 80 community residents were drawn to the Catholic Church for the 9 a.m. service, which concluded with the singing of andquot;America The Beautiful.andquot;
andquot;It's very important that we come together as a community to remember and to reflect on what it means to be free and to remember those who were lost in the great tragedy of 9-11,andquot; Irwin said. andquot;And also to thank those who continue to work to keep our community safe and free.andquot;
The Catholic Church offered the commemoration because it had the only regular service scheduled Thursday, Irwin said. Church members Jay and Jerry Boyd encouraged him to invite the community to participate.
The first anniversary of the terrorist attacks was recognized in community services a year ago, but also at the hospital chapel where daily Mass is celebrated Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Irwin said. He plans to make the observance an annual event.
The Boyds, who moved to Baker City from California earlier this year, helped organize the service and extend invitations to the emergency service workers.
andquot;I think it's really important to remember the event and to remember that God's watching over all of us,andquot; Jay Boyd said. andquot;This is an important thing to the community. We need it as part of the healing process.andquot;
Jerry Boyd is a former police chief with 35 years of public safety experience. He served as reader during the service.
andquot;I feel very strongly that people in public safety need our prayers and support,andquot; Jerry Boyd said. andquot;They need to know the community cares.andquot;
Irwin pointed out that the Bible readings, which emphasized forgiveness, were not selected especially for Thursday's Mass, but were part of the church's regularly scheduled study for the day.
He urged those attending to reflect on the scriptures.
andquot;Turn the other cheek when we have been hurt forgive,andquot; he said. andquot;But do not forget; remember the pain; remember the suffering and the pain associated with that day.
andquot;There are times when we are called to suffer with Christ,andquot; he said. andquot;We thank you who serve our community, who serve those who suffer in so many ways.andquot;
Irwin also offered appreciation for those who serve in the Armed Services andquot;who have to be there on the front lines in defense of our freedoms.andquot;
Irwin pointed out that most people can remember exactly what they were doing when they first learned of the terrorist attacks two years ago Thursday.
andquot;It brought back a lot of the feelings I had that day,andquot; said Fred Hertel, assistant Baker City fire chief and a member of the St. Francis congregation, who served as crossbearer for the Thursday service.
andquot;I was on duty the day that happened,andquot; Hertel said, recalling that he was up early enough to watch televised images of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
andquot;Many of our brothers just died,andquot; he remembers saying as he watched the tragedy unfold on the television at the fire station.
andquot;It was an unfortunate incident that hit home,andquot; he said. andquot;I stood in awe with the rest of the world.andquot;
Most emergency service workers are reluctant to be recognized for their efforts, Fire Chief Tim Frost said after the service.
andquot;We're kind of bashful people. We love what we do, we just don't like to be out in front sometimes,andquot; he said. andquot;This is stuff we do every day. We appreciate the public's support.andquot;
Sgt. Wyn Lohner of the Baker City Police Department also expressed his appreciation for the church's efforts to commemorate the terrorist attacks and to honor emergency service workers.
andquot;Any activity that brings law enforcement and members of our community together in a positive way is a good thing to do,andquot; he said.