September 11, 2021
“Do not be afraid. Have faith.”
~ Mark 5:36
I’m looking out my window right now, a sunny day in Michigan with fluffy white clouds in the sky. A day very much like that day 20 years ago, September 11, 2001. Today we live with the memory of that day, embedded in our brains in different ways. For me, that day started out quite normal. I was in my corner office in a safe and secure school, getting my day started. Shortly before 9:00 am, my financial advisor, of all people, called me to tell me to turn on my tv. I said, “come on, why are you calling me.” He just kept saying, turn on your tv.
And I did. I was aghast. How could what I was seeing be happening. How crazy. An errant plane in NYC, so far off its flight path. Then came the second plane. I told my friend that I needed to hang up and digest what I had just seen.
After that, things began to happen fast. I checked in with my family and then with my faculty. I had a student show up in my office door saying that she hadn’t heard from her sister. I told her that I was sure she was fine, after all, she lived in Chicago. As I stood listening to this young woman, I learned that while her sister lived in Chicago, she was on business in New York, working in the World Trade Center. You can imagine how the rest of my day went.
In the hours following the first strike, the high school students and faculty gathered in the chapel. While there were tears and students notably absent, as their parents had already picked them up from school, wanting them to be nearby, we prayed. We prayed for the innocent lives that were lost. We prayed for those who were fighting valiantly on our behalf. We prayed for peace. Most of all, we prayed that we would live with faith and not in fear. We placed our trust in God. In times of trouble and in moments when I find myself afraid, I recall those moments, as the sun streamed through the stained-glass windows of the chapel, when we committed ourselves as children of God to live with faith and not fear.
Yesterday I read an article written by Michael Stechschulte for the Detroit Catholic entitled, “Not lost in vain: Two decades after 9/11, archbishop, religious leaders honor fallen.” He was at an interfaith memorial service on the Detroit River, honoring the victims, first responders, and service personnel who perished during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Archbishop Vigneron prayed that, “as we commemorate this day, September 11, as a time for remembrance and resolve, we ask you to hear us. In your presence, Lord, we remember those who were victims of terrorism on that dreadful day. Those who died, those who ere injured or wounded in body or spirit, and those whose loved ones are among the victims, we entrust anew into your hands, there to find safety and healing beyond what the world offers.”
In the weeks after the attack, a bill to memorialize September 11 as a national day of mourning was introduced. The resolution ultimately called for September 11 to be known at Patriot Day, to honor the first responders – fire fighters, law enforcement officers, emergency workers, and service members – who answered the call of duty and the brave civilians who rushed into action to save lies that day. We honor the American spirit and national patriotism.
Flags throughout the nation are flown at half-mast on September 11. A moment of silence is observed six times to correspond to each attack that day – 8:46 am, when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, 9:03 am, 9:37 am, 9:59 am, 10:03 am, and 10:28 am, when the attacks on the South Tower and the Pentagon took place, as well as to commemorate the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, and the time each tower fell.
And we pray:
God of justice and of peace,
On this day of solemn remembrance:
May we honor the lives that were lost in this tragic act.
May we give thanks for those who served and saved, rendered aid and assistance.
May we give comfort to those who live with loss.
May we seek justice and peace where it is within our ability,
and rely on you when the ability escapes us.
On this day of solemn remembrance:
May we build what has been torn down.
May we mend what has been broken.
May we live your love when hate seems to reign.
May we bear witness to the cause of peace.