PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Rally for Peace was held at Point State Park on Friday to honor the 11 people killed in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.READ MORE: Steeler Nation Reacts To The Retirement Of Ben Roethlisberger
The event began with a moment of silence and a reading of the victims’ names.
Watch the moment of silence:
Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks were among the first to address the large crowd that assembled in the park to offer their condolences and support for the victims.
Watch Michael Keaton’s Speech:
“This is an extraordinary honor. I’ve been asked to come to Pittsburgh for various occasions and reasons. This one, I’m always going to remember because this was a tough one. When I was in California watching all of this occur, the feeling of helplessness was extraordinary. This one really hurt and when it happens in places of worship like at the Tree of Life, or the church in South Carolina, any place of worship, that pain runs really, really deep,” Keaton said.
Keaton went on to say that the actions of the community in the wake of the horrible tragedy made him proud to be from Pittsburgh.
“When I watched on my television screen, this extraordinary Tree of Life community, and an entire city and the extraordinary neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, where I lived for a short time, I was dumbstruck and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, by the elegance and the grace and the high mindedness. It’s hard to see it when you’re inside it, but I can tell you from the outside looking in you guys look really, really good. And I’m I’m very, very proud,” Keaton said.
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Tom Hanks shared the stage with Fred Rogers’ wife, Joanne, to offer an emotional tribute to the people of Pittsburgh.
“The people of Pittsburgh live in good neighborhoods that do not divide the city, but that define it. A visitor here will learn of the unbreakable bond shared by all who wear the black and the gold. A connection stronger than the iron and steel forged in the furnaces of this city, here in the American heart. A visitor will know that Pittsburgh is a great city because Pittsburgh has been greatly tested. And in those trials, in your days of struggle, Pittsburgh has set an example of what can come next. And that what can come next can be good. In these past weeks, America and the world has been a visitor to your iron city. Pittsburgh has shown us what does come next, what good comes when the people of Allegheny and the Monongahela love their neighbors with no exceptions. Thank you, Pittsburgh for your example, for your inspiration and for your love of each other,” Hanks said.
Watch Tom Hanks’ Speech:
KDKA-TV’s John Shumway asked Hanks about the resiliency Pittsburgh has shown following the tragedy. Hanks said he noticed that quality about the city even before the events of that day.
“Well, it was on display even before that horrible day. I don’t think you can come to this city and not get a sense that there is something special going on. You go to a lot of places where people are from. It’s not all that often that a big city like Pittsburgh is a place where people stay. People that stayed here decided that it was good and they wanted to make it even better,” Hanks said.
EXCLUSIVE: Tom Hanks Reflects On Resiliency Of Pittsburgh Following Synagogue Shooting:
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who leads the Tree of Life congregation, made the initial call to 911 on that tragic day. Rabbi Myers saved four of his congregants from the front of the sanctuary when he told them to run out a back door.
A 911 operator kept him on the line as police and SWAT team members stormed the building. They found Rabbi Myers barricaded in a bathroom.
Watch Rabbi Jeffrey Myers’ Speech:
Today, Myers addressed the crowd and thanked those brave officers. But, he also called on those in attendance to stop using the word “hate” in their vocabulary.
“I want to thank Pittsburgh’s finest because if it wasn’t for Pittsburgh’s finest I wouldn’t be standing here addressing you today. You’ve heard a lot of words today, but words are just the beginning. Hate is not just a word. It’s an evil that corrodes from inside us. To me, hate is not merely a word, it’s an obscenity, just like the other four-letter obscenities that we don’t say in public. We need to erase the use of the word hate from our vocabulary, not use it ever. So, if you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, don’t tell me you hate a certain team from the northeast United States, just don’t like them. If you’re a Penguins fan, don’t tell me you hate the Stanley Cup champions from last year, you just don’t like them. If you hate Brussels sprouts, no, you just don’t like them. If you hate today’s weather, well, it’s Pittsburgh, but you just don’t like it. I pledge to you today that I will no longer ever utter the word hate in my vocabulary. If you are with me, raise your hand that you will not say the word hate ever again. I might be an east coaster, but today and forever I am Pittsburgh,” Myers said.
Watch Brett Keisel’s Speech:
Brett Keisel also spoke and urged the city to use its championship mentality to become the city of change.
“I’m humbled and honored to speak to you today. This is Pittsburgh, also known as the City of Champions. We have championship teams and a championship mentality that unites this city. Like our sports teams, our city is diverse. We have different religions, we have different skin color, we have different ethnicities, but we are united as one, as Pittsburghers. We must become champions of change. Oct. 27 hit home for us, but this hate is happening around our country, our world, for far too long. We are stronger than hate. Our diversity is our strength. Spread love, be kind, take care of each other, do our best, say, ‘I love you,’ say, ‘I’m sorry.’ We can do this, Pittsburgh. We must do this, Pittsburgh. Let the city of champions become the city of change,” Keisel said.
Watch Gov. Tom Wolf’s Speech:
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is encouraged people to reflect on their common humanity and to work toward a more peaceful society.
Gov. Wolf called the shooting a dark and hateful act that is not acceptable in Pennsylvania, or anywhere in the country.
“I am so, so proud of all you who have come out on this dreary day to remember what happened in Squirrel Hill and I am so sad by the event that has brought us all together here…I am honored to be here today. I’m honored to be here to grieve, to pray to reflect and to come together with you. And, to commit to one another to each of us that the kind of violence that took place on the holy grounds of the Tree of Life is not acceptable anywhere in Pennsylvania, anywhere in Pennsylvania. Like many of you, I am still reeling from that dark and hateful act. It continues to hang heavy on my soul. It hangs heavy on my mind. This anti-Semitic attack in a synagogue was an attack on each and every one of us. It was an attack on our humanity, it was an attack on our values, it was an attack on the very way we live. So, let us therefore resolve that this heinous act of bigotry will not define who we are, nor will it define how we treat each other,” Gov. Wolf said.
Mayor Bill Peduto called for people around the world to observe a moment of silence today for the victims. During his remarks, he called on Pittsburgh and other cities where mass shootings have occurred to show the world what real strength is about.
“We gather here today to say enough is enough and hate against one is hate against all. We gather here today to say let Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks and Tallahassee and other cities around this country show what a sacrifice means and show what strength is about. That strength is not about how many guns you have, strength is made by the compassion of your heart. Let us gather today to make sure, as we move forward, that we move forward as one America working on common sense reform that will end this type of violence,” Peduto said.
The shooting was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.MORE NEWS: Ben Roethlisberger Officially Announces Retirement
A 46-year-old man who is accused of the shooting rampage has pleaded not guilty to federal charges.