September 11th, 9/11, 911; this is a date that will live in our memories, like December 7th lives in the memories of my father’s generation. On that day, I was in my company’s office, listening to my radio when I heard the report of a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center Towers. I assumed that it was a small plane, as the morning wore on and the stories came in more frequently, we all realized that something worse was happening. I remember looking out of our office window down at a building that had flat screen televisions, showing the news. People were gathered in front, watching the story unfold, so many people that they spilled into the street. When I left my office later that day, the streets of Boston were almost empty. The following morning, waiting at the commuter train station, I looked up at the sky, and saw the thin contrails of fighter jets on patrol.
Other images I remember was the videos of the jets crashing into the Twin Towers. The images of people trapped in the flaming Towers, which soon collapsed. I remember the pictures of the skeletal remains of the Towers, still smoking, dust still in the air. The image of firefighters, police, and EMT’s carrying the lifeless body of Father Mychal Judge, OFM, from the wreckage. The image of a cross, made from the remains of the steel girders.
The United States changed that day, many of its citizens showing great courage. But also a dark side came out, Arab, Muslim citizens attacked verbally and physically. Arab emigrants detained. The country has entered unchartered waters, and the course some of our leaders has set, I fear will lead to further darkness. A country that decried the use of brutal interrogation methods and mistreatment of prisoners in the past has revealed using techniques that could only be called torture. And the majority of its citizens support this, as long as they are kept safe. The courage and valor of our soldiers and marines are inspiring, but we have been at war longer than at anytime in our history. The cost in blood, broken bodies and broken minds continues to grow.
On September 11th, 2009, I will go to St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA. There, in one of their chapels, the names of those who lost their lives on 9/11 will be read and remembered. In that chapel, I will pray for those who died on that terrible day; pray for those who lost a loved one that terrible day; pray for our country and the world, that peace will win out, and that light will beat back the darkness.
“Mindful that they (Secular Franciscans) are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.” (Art. 19a, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order).