The mayor of Pittsburgh summoned all the city’s famous industrial grit on Sunday evening as he promised to drive anti-Semites out of the open and back to their basements, following the gun attack that killed 11 Jewish people.
Thousands of mourners packed into the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum for an eclectic service that featured gospel songs, psalms, the words of Mr Rogers – the puppeteer and TV star who lived locally – and a speech by Naftali Bennett, the nationalist Israeli government minister.
Some in the crowd came to express their grief while others said they had come to show their solidarity.
But it was Bill Peduto, the city’s mayor, who captured the defiant mood of thousands more who braved an autumn downpour to stand outside and listen to the service via loudspeakers.
“Let me tell you something about Pittsburgh: We’re tough. We are proud of our blue collar roots and we are not the type of people that react to threats or actions in a way that takes back from us,” he said, in an address that referenced how the steel city had bounced back from previous hardships.
“We will drive antisemitism and the hate of any people back to the basement, on to computers, and away from open discussion and dialogue around the city, around the state and around this country.”
His words triggered a standing ovation and deafening applause.
Robert Bowers is due to appear in court on Monday charged with the 11 murders. Police say they are poring over his social media accounts where he is accused of sharing anti-Semitic memes and conspiracy theories.
Jeff Finkelstein, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, channelled Mr Rogers, the beloved children’s performer who once lived in Squirrel Hill, scene of the shooting.
“When you see scary things, look for the helpers,” he said, repeating the entertainer’s gentle catchphrase. “You will always find people who are helping.”
Outside, Cindy Bryce huddled beneath an umbrella with her teenaged daughter. The steady rain was not going to put them off, even if there was no more room inside the memorial and museum.
“This is what Pittsburgh is about,” she said, gesturing at the crowds crammed on the steps beneath the building’s neo-classical facade.
Red Cross volunteer criss-crossed the crowd giving out water or offering counselling services.
Inside, the rabbi of the New Light congregation, and the man credited with shepherding some of the congregants behind a door and saving their lives during Saturday's shooting, described losing pillars of the community who would volunteer not just at the synagogue but in the wider society.
His voice cracking with emotion, Jonathan Perlman said: “What happened yesterday will not break us. We will continue to thrive and sing and worship and learn together.”
Yet for all the talk of rebuilding and of resisting a lone gunman intent on destroying the American commitment to freedom and diversity, there were plenty in the crowd worrying quietly about what the future might bring.
America is heading into midterm elections next week during a particularly febrile part of the electoral cycle. Civility is in short supply among politicians and on Friday a suspect was arrested and charged with sending homemade bombs to prominent liberal figures.
Carri Golden, who lives a couple of blocks from Squirrel hill, said Sunday felt like the day after 9/11: The enormity of it all made it difficult to process.
For her part as a Jew, she wondered if the events at the Tree of Life synagogue were a timely reminder that anti-Semitism remained at large in the world.
“I was too comfortable, too secure,” she said, adding that her husband had been verbally abused on his way to and from synagogue.
“We have to get good out of the pain, we have to honour the victims by making the world a better place.”