Friday, September 09, 2011

Thoughts on 9/11

My father died when he was 51. One day, he was on a beach and loving life, saying that it was the most relaxing weekend of his life. The next day, he dropped dead of a heart attack. It was such a complete shock to our family, parish, and local community (which for our family lasted about a year). Nothing of any serious nature had happened to our family in my first seventeen years, so this was definitely a moment of crisis. The word crisis literally means something that can go one way or another. Would this tragic event bring us closer together or divide us permanently? Which way would we go? Thankfully, it brought us closer together. We remain close, and that closeness is being passed to the next generation.

In a similar way, 9/11 was a definite moment of crisis for our country. It was a total shock to all of us who watched the horror unfold before our eyes. Nothing like this had ever happened to our country. Would this tragic event bring us closer together or divide us permanently? The immediate days that followed September 11, 2001 showed incredible signs of unity. Our goodness seemed to triumph over the evil inflicted on us (as big as it was) through the widespread and overwhelming response of faith and prayer, acts of charity and generosity, and heroic commitment to national service. It seems to me that when we remember 9/11, we remember all of this and are united. This weekend will bring all of this back as we celebrate the 10th anniversary. So, we can enjoy a deeper unity as we happily celebrate the goodness of 9/11 even with the painful reliving of the evil.

The Archbishop of New York has offered his thoughts about where we are on the 10th anniversary. What are your thoughts or remembrances?

Archbishop Dolan: Let 9/11 Legacy Be One of Hope

Says 10-Year Anniversary a Time to Remember, Go Forward

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 8, 2011 ( The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, is a moment to not only remember, but also to go forward, says the president of the U.S. bishops' conference.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York wrote this in a statement released days ahead of the anniversary that marks a decade since four hijacked planes crashed in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In total, some 3,000 died as a result of the attacks, including 19 hijackers.

"We reverently recall those who were most directly affected by this tragedy -- those who died, were injured or lost loved ones," Archbishop Dolan wrote. "In a special way we recall the selfless first responders -- firefighters, police, chaplains, emergency workers, and other brave persons -- who risked, and many times lost, their lives in their courageous efforts to save others."

It is estimated that more than 400 first responders, including 343 members of the New York City Fire Department, died in New York on 9/11. Most died when the north and south towers collapsed.

The archbishop said that it's important to not only to remember the attacks, but also the response: "We turned to prayer, and then turned to one another to offer help and support. Hands were folded in prayer and opened in service to those who had lost so much."

Going forward, Archbishop Dolan said that as a country "we remain resolved to reject extreme ideologies that perversely misuse religion to justify indefensible attacks on innocent civilians."

"This tenth anniversary of 9/11 can be a time of renewal," he added. "Ten years ago we came together across religious, political, social and ethnic lines to stand as one people to heal wounds and defend against terrorism.

"As we face today's challenges of people out of work, families struggling, and the continuing dangers of wars and terrorism, let us summon the 9/11 spirit of unity to confront our challenges. Let us pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear, but rather hope for a world renewed."


In a column published Wednesday on the Web site of Catholic New York, Archbishop Dolan reflected that in addition to what took place on 9/11, there was a lot to be learned from 9/12.

He recounted how the parish priest of St. Peter's, located near Ground Zero, told him: "We New Yorkers don’t just remember the horrors and sorrows of 9/11; we also celebrate 9/12."

"It took me awhile to get the insight of his statement," the archbishop admitted. But then he explained: "New Yorkers were shocked, scared, angry, saddened and shaken by the unforgettable death and destruction of 9/11, true; but, New Yorkers were not paralyzed or defeated!

"They immediately rallied, becoming people of intense faith, prayer, hope, and love, as the rescue, renewal, resilience, rebuilding, and outreach began. And it has not stopped since."

"9/11 could have turned us into petrified, paranoid, vicious animals, and our demented attackers would thus have won," Archbishop Dolan continued, "or, it could bring out what is most noble in the human soul, such as heroic sacrifice, solidarity in service, non-stop rescue efforts, communities bonding, prayer for those perished and families mourning, healing and renewal."

"9/11 did not have the last word," he added. "9/12 did."

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