As a bagpiper's "Amazing Grace" pierced the cool morning air, about 150 Palo Altans gathered under oak trees at the Palo Alto Art Center Sunday to mark the passage of 10 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
U.S. flags -- 2,977 in total, representing the victims of 9/11 -- adorned the lawn along Embarcadero Road. They were arranged into two squares, recalling the footprints of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
"Our country changed that day," said Mayor Sid Espinosa, who emceed the event on behalf of the City Council, police and fire departments and the rest of the city staff.
"Ten years ago, our country experienced the unimaginable," he said. "It left America and the world stunned in disbelief."
The commemoration included the Boy Scout Troop 50 color guard, the Gunn High School choir performing the spiritual "A City Called Heaven," a flag ceremony involving the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and a moment of silence a 9:11 a.m.
Espinosa urged those assembled to honor the victims of 9/11, including hundreds of firefighters, by spending time on Sunday giving to others and performing "one new, extra act of kindness."
"The best way to respond to unimaginable evil is with unrelenting goodness," he said. There is no better way to "celebrate the tenacity, strength and love of this country and its people," he added.
The half-hour ceremony concluded with members of the council, City Manager James Keene, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts placing the final U.S. flags in the ground, as a bugler sounded "Taps."
Dozens of residents then walked to Eleanor Pardee Park on Channing Avenue to visit the city's Sept. 11 monument, a circle of olive trees surrounding a stone bearing a quote from President George Washington. It reads: "Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all."