More than 2,000 flag-waving Social Security Administration employees assembled at the federal agency's Woodlawn headquarters for a boisterous rally, complete with bagpipers, cheering and singing.
A more subdued gathering took place at Anne Arundel Community College, and last night at the state fairgrounds in Timonium, a flag-waving crowd of about 1,000 crammed the 4-H building, forming an undulating sea of red, white, and blue.
The most unusual in the area yesterday seemed to be the turnout of more than 100 military veterans in Harford County - including an octogenarian - to take the oath of service in a heartfelt but mock re-enlistment.
At Social Security headquarters, a courtyard was filled with red, white and blue balloons. Many employees enthusiastically waived flags, sang patriotic songs, and wore T-shirts that read: "God Bless America, Never Forget September 11, 2001."
"It's good to know everybody feels the same way," said statistician Sharon Johnson, a 27-year veteran of the federal agency. "It's not very much that brings us together. We're usually fighting among ourselves. We're not now."
When they sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," Kary Dyer, a deaf employee who works as a personnel management specialist, gave a moving performance in sign language.
When she came to the end of the song, she expressed "home of the brave" with clenched fists beating skyward.
"Many victims left young families, and I know we needed to get money into their hands," he said.
At Anne Arundel Community College's Arnold campus, the school's president, Martha A. Smith, told students and faculty members gathered in a small courtyard that the most important question is, "What can I do?"
"It is an answer that is resounding throughout our college community, our neighborhoods and our nation, and it is this: Oppose hatred, oppose intolerance," Smith said. "Hatred, acted upon, is evil. We cannot, we must not return evil for evil."
Smith read a letter to the college's student newspaper from Noreen Zaman, who describes herself as an American Muslim.
"Muslims all over the world are against any form of terrorism," Zaman wrote, also noting that Muslims were among Tuesday's victims. "The killing of innocent civilians and of oneself is strictly prohibited in Islam, as stated in our Holy Book, the Qur'an."
Many students said a somber mood has overtaken the campus, and they're finding it difficult to concentrate on their work.
"I came out because I wanted to be with people," said Amy Kirby, 19, of Glen Burnie. "For most of us, the biggest thing we can do is remember and stay united."
"United We Stand" was the theme of last night's rally in Timonium, whose media and community sponsors included The Sun.
Two firetrucks - one from the Providence Volunteer Fire Company, the other from Brooklandville Station 14 - formed a "ladder arch" across the fairgrounds entrance road, with a giant American flag at the peak rolling in a gentle breeze.