Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Remember...September 11th


One of the things I promised myself I wouldn't say in a post about the events of September 11, 2001, was that we lost our innocence then. We did not. That was lost long before that terrible day when over three thousand Americans--Atheists, Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Sikhs, those without a religious tradition yet still believers in God, and others--died together.


I mourn for all those who died in the Towers, the Pentagon, and in rural Pennsylvania. I mourn the First Responders, like Fr Mychal Judge, ofm, above, who died attempting to save others. I mourn the countless thousands who have died in the 'fight against terrorism,' civilians and soldiers alike. May their memories be for a blessing.


There's a subgroup within those casualties I'd like to remember especially: those that jumped. Many seeing no other recourse chose to take the situation into their own hands rather than allow collapse, fire or smoke kill them. It's easy to moralize, but until anyone of us is in a similar situation, it seems prudent to remain silent.


A few years ago I saw a news story in which a man spoke of searching to see if any photographic evidence existed showing his wife jumping, as opposed to falling or being sucked out a window. He was actually relieved when he, indeed, found two pictures of her: one of her standing on a very high floor in a window frame that had been blown out and no way to be rescued. The second showed her after she had just jumped and was midair. This man said it actually comforted him that she made the decision in light of the odds.


I also wish to remember those heroes, largely unknown, who reached out to others, without thought to themselves. I think of the Orthodox Jewish man who had a good chance of making it out but chose to stay behind with a gentleman in a wheelchair whom he came upon in a tower stairwell, the latter telling those trying to help him to leave him and save themselves.


Fr Mychal Judge, the saintly Franciscan deserves mention as well. He was an earthy saint: no fake piety about him. He died doing what a priest does in such a horrific situation: administering last rites to a fallen firefighter. Mychal was being the chaplain he was. He's certainly one of my patrons as a Franciscan and future chaplain.


So much horror that day, so much death  and injury, yet so many acts of grace and love, too. My prayer is that we demand peace of our leaders, and that we embody compassion and love to others, no matter what. Hatred spewed from those who flew the planes that clear morning, but it cannot, must not have the last word. Lord make us instruments of thy peace...


Salaam, shalom, namaste, peace...

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