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Knights of Columbus September 11 Ceremony

By Augustine Bono

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Framing their religious sentiments in pageantry and patriotism, the Knights of Columbus marked the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Two by two, they entered the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Slowly they walked, 1,100 Knights in black uniforms and plumed hats, their steps in tune with music they commissioned to commemorate the Sept. 11 events.
Absent but remembered were 45 knights. They were killed in the terrorist attacks a year ago in New York City, at the Pentagon outside Washington and in Pennsylvania.
"We pray for the thousands of good people who died, 45 of whom were our brother Knights of Columbus," said Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., supreme chaplain of the fraternal organization, during the homily at the afternoon Mass.

As the smell of incense hung in the air, Bishop Daily asked: "Where was God?" He answered that God was present in the people, especially police and firefighters, who emulated Christ by sacrificing their lives to rescue others.
"There is no greater love than this: that a man die for a friend," the bishop said. "Loving by its very nature is sacrificing." 
At the end of the Mass, whose main celebrant was Cardinal Theodore E. McCormick of Washington, the Knights remained in the basilica for the second part of their commemoration. Titled "One Nation Under God," the ceremony stressed the religious foundations of peace and patriotism.
The title stems from the successful campaign by the Knights in the 1950s to get Congress to insert the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the recent federal appeals court decision that use of the term in public school recitations is unconstitutional. 

"We don't apologize that the Knights of Columbus were instrumental in that. It is our proud boast," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
Referring to Sept. 11,  2001, Anderson said that "90 percent of Americans prayed that day for our nation and victory over the terrorists. Surely that day we were one nation under God."
As he spoke, the Knights prepared for a candle-lighting ceremony focusing on a tiny oil lamp used by Pope John Paul II last Jan. 24 in Assisi, Italy, at a prayer meeting for peace with 200 religious leaders from around the world.  

Bishop Daily and Anderson lighted their candles from the papal peace lamp and then lighted the candles of 14 Knights in blue-plumed hats. The 14 Knights walked down the isles, lighting the candles of the seated Knights. 
In a talk, retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady urged his fellow Knights to organize Catholics to vote out of office public officials supporting abortion and child pornography
"The flag, the Pledge (of Allegiance) and the Constitution are our trinity of patriotism," he said.
In another talk, U.S. District Judge William F. Downes of Wyoming told fellow Knights that a foundation stone of patriotism is knowledge of the values and legal guarantees in the Constitution. 

"One cannot with fidelity uphold the right to bear arms, for example, and yet disparage the right to due process of law, or the right to be convicted based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.
"One cannot genuinely celebrate the right to freedom of religion and expression without recognizing our obligation to uphold the rights of others who hold religious and secular beliefs different from our own," said Downes.

President Bush sent a letter praising the Knights for their public and charitable activities. These activities are a reminder that "kindness and generosity will always prevail over evil," said the Bush letter read at the ceremony.
Capt. Alfredo Fuentes of the New York Fire Department, who was permanently disabled during rescue efforts at New York's World Trade Center, read the Pledge of Allegiance before the closing procession.
Highlighting the procession were Knights carrying replicas of the 28 different U.S. flags approved by Congress over the course of the nation's history. They were loaned by John Moore, a Knight from San Diego.

Editor's Note -- Nine Knights from the Arizona District Participated, Gary Boscardin, Eric Seeger, Ric Hedlund, Pat Schuller, Jim Maino, Don McCarthy, John Tobin. Not pictured,  Armand Brooks and Gerry Fjetland.