Fourteen years ago today, my dad and I were late leaving for school. It was a day like any other. I had even neglected some morning chore, so dad was already sitting in his truck listening to “J.T. in the Morning”, the local morning talk show in South Bend, IN. As I climbed into the truck, dad told me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was and–since we were listening on the radio–I didn’t know what kind of plane was involved. I remember thinking that some small single-engine place had accidentally crashed into some building. Little did I know.
Once I arrived at school, of course, the day quickly turned into one unlike any other in my life. Teachers and school administrators were glued to radios and televisions. Little got done in class. We prayed as a class. Parents stopped by the school with more frequency than normal. I remember being jealous that the fifth and sixth graders were able to watch what was transpiring on television.
After school, I sat glued to the television for the remainder of the evening, getting up only to look outside and see the contrail of Air Force One in the distance, the only plane flying that evening. I remember watching and re-watching the horrors of the day, sad, scared, and unsure of what this all meant. I remembering getting out our family’s old atlas to find this weird place called Afghanistan. After that day, we watched more of the news than we ever had before, tuning in for Presidential addresses and then to watch images of Afghanistan and (later) Iraq.
Not surprisingly for a fourth-grader living in the Midwest, I didn’t know anyone directly involved with the 9/11 terror attacks. I was later told that my aunt–who worked in NYC at the time–had a meeting at the World Trade Center later that day, but I’ve never found out if that was true. In the past fourteen years, however, I have met a handful of people who lost loved ones that day. And even though President Bush asked us to return to “normal” after that day, things have been the same. At the very least, my view of the world was radically changed that day and many days since as I’ve tried to wrap my mind around these things called “religion” and “politics,” neither of which was really a concern of mine before September 11th.
This is not the place to expound on the political, social, or religious ramifications of how life has changed in the past fourteen years. Instead, I wish to offer a prayer for the victims, their families and friends, and all who were impacted by the evils committed on 9/11.
God the compassionate one, whose loving care extends to all the world, we remember this day your children whose lives were cut short by fierce flames of anger and hatred. Console those who continue to suffer and grieve, and give them comfort and hope as they look your vindication in the future. Out of what we have endured, give us the grace to examine our relationships with those who perceive us as the enemy, and continue to show our leaders the way to use our power to serve the good of all. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord who, in reconciling love, was lifted up from the earth that he might draw all things to himself. Amen.