Vicksburg looks to God for order in chaos

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Nancy Parker, left, wipes away a tear as her friend Wendy Williamson comforts her during a prayer service at the Old Court House Museum Tuesday evening. Williamson said she has a friend who is a tour guide at the World Trade Center and had not been able to confirm a condition.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[9/12/2001]God, credited with bringing order out of chaos in creation of the universe, was asked to do so again Tuesday afternoon.

As shadows grew across the lawn of Vicksburg’s Old Court House Museum, hundreds gathered. They prayed. And in some cases, they shed tears for the victims and families of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

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“Oh God, who created order out of chaos, help to restore order to the chaos in which we find ourselves today. Amen,” said the Rev. Bill Livingston, rector of Christ Episcopal Church.

Across town, War World II veterans lowered to half-staff the American flag they’d taken to foreign soil. “I think we ought to go over there and bomb the hell out of them,” said Rusty Price.

At the museum, the Rev. Livingston and five other ministers led about 250 people in prayer in a service organized and conducted 10 hours after hijacked airliners slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and into a Pennsylvania field. Others gathered in churches, and services continue. Gibson Memorial United Methodist today announced a prayer service for 6:15 tonight.

Holding back the tears, Vicksburg resident Wendy Williamson said her prayers were going out for all the victims and their families, but an extra prayer was for a friend who worked as a tour guide in the World Trade Center.

“We don’t know if she’s dead or alive,” Williamson said. “We’ve been trying to call all day, but we can’t get through.”

Nancy Parker said she also prayed for people in the military like her son who joined the U.S. Army four months ago. She said she talked to him, Pvt. Larry Hoover, earlier. He might be sent to New York soon.

“He just told me they are on standby and may have to go to New York to help with the cleanup,” Parker said.

At home, Frank Pajerski spent much of the day watching as events unfolded live on television and waiting to hear again from his son who called from a pay phone about three blocks away from the explosions in New York.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” Pajerski said. “We just flew in from New York Sunday and we were thinking that could have been our flight.”

After lowering the American flag to half-mast at the VFW post on Washington Street, Bill Lauderdale Sr., a veteran of War World II and Korea, expressed hopes the people who are responsible for the horrors in New York and Washington would be found.

“This is a lot different from 1941. We knew who did it then,” he said in reference to the Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor. “You’ve got to have confidence in your country.”

Most of his fellow veterans at the post and others around the city and state expressed surprise that acts of terrorism of this magnitude could come to America.

In Jackson, people lined up outside of Mississippi Blood Services’ office to donate blood after witnessing live coverage of the disaster in New York.

“When I saw the devastation in New York and I realized all those people were hurt, I just knew I had to come down here and give,” said Amy Palmer of Madison.

Marianna Barnes of Ridgeland said she sat in front of the television, horrified, throughout the day.

“As a nation, we need to pull together and do what we can do to help,” Barnes said as she gave blood.

A blood drive has been scheduled in Vicksburg at 10 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter.