Sunday, September 11, 2016

Some memories and a prayer for peace

This summer, my son and I visited the National September 11 Memorial, the magnificent tribute to the victims of the terror attacks built on the site of Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood in lower Manhattan. In case you missed it, here is my post about that visit.

Exactly ten years ago, New York Times Op Ed columnist Frank Rich wrote an article describing what in his opinion was America "letting go" of the events of September 11, 2001. To illustrate his point, he used a photograph made by Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker of five young adults sitting on the banks of the East River, engaged in what appeared to be casual conversation while behind them, smoke billowed from the site where the World Trade Center stood just hours before. Rich's point was that not only had the country moved on from the tragedy after five years, but the folks in the photograph had already moved on that very day. Here's his assessment of the American character based upon that one photograph:
Traumatic as the attack on America was, 9/11 would recede quickly for many. This is a country that likes to move on, and fast. The young people in Mr. Hoepker’s photo aren’t necessarily callous. They’re just American.
Rich turned out to be dead wrong about the picture. Ten years after his article, one would be hard pressed to support his assumption that this country as a whole has gotten over 9/11. Yes there are exceptions, you can read about some of them in my post written five years ago on the tenth anniversary

Hard to believe, but today is the fifteenth anniversary of that terrible day. We continue to remember the victims, the places where they perished, Shanksville, PA.Washington D.C. and New York City, their loved ones, and the people who suffered and died in the wars that followed. In doing so we pray for peace in the world, an end to suffering and violence, and a time of understanding between nations and peoples. We most certainly will not see this come to pass in our lifetime, most likely not in our children's lifetimes, and possibly not ever, but it is our duty as citizens of the world to try.

How can we not?

In memory of that day, please indulge my quoting words that come from faith, but words I believe speak to all men and women of good will, regardless of their creed or lack of one, words that define what it means to be a human being.

The prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.


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