Since the first somber anniversary, commemoration of 9/11 has yes remembrance, but with a moving forward aspect. This year, all week long, I’ve wanted to write a post about the horrified shock that is still present eight years later.
Others apparently felt the same, or at least it seemed so as I surfed through my morning news and blog sites. Perhaps time has made it easier to think about that day. Perhaps it’s reaction to those who have turned it into partisan spin, such as “the Republicans’ ‘day of fear.'” Or Napolitano’s “politics of fear.” Perhaps it’s to counter the DoR deacon who chides audiences and congregations for fearfulness, a perfectly natural reaction to horrorifying events. (This particular deacon sounds much more like an apologist for Islam than a voice for Christianity in general or Catholicism specifically. As far as I know, he has never acknowledged the multitude of repeated violence by Islamic terrorists.)
My first awareness was after the second plane hit the WTC. The first of the horrified shocks was the use of civilians to commit these terrorist acts and the report of the stabbings, throat slashed and murders of the passengers on board. Then my adrenaline kicked in, gearing up for a response that was physicially impossible for me to make.
I said prayers for first responders and the medical personnel (in NYC and as close as the regional medical center) as they readied to be overwhelmed with casualties. News that the Pentagon had been hit and that a fourth plane was hijacked. Then came the sudden fear for friends who travel frequently, wondering if they were on any of the hijacked planes, and indeed, worrying about their travels for quite a while afterwards.
For the most part,though, my attention was on the WTC. The first tower collapsed and hope diminished. At the Pentagon, there were casualties, and therefore survivors. Unfortunately, there were no survivors from Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. Then, when I thought nothing else could be worse, the undescribable shock that instead of casualties – which meant survivors – there would be almost nothing but death. I remember the collapse of hope of that moment.
That feeling was a luxury of those of us listening on the radio or watching on televsion. The first responders were busy with bucket brigades, battling with more than the dusty bad air, looking for survivors. I felt immensely proud of this country and my fellow countrymen. Of first responders and other emergency personnel who diligently train and prepare for the worst. Proud of our government who had a protocol in place and again, for those in service whose training is invisible until a time of crisis. Of the generosity to come, as Americans have always been there to pull together. Finally that evening, deeply proud of the bipartisan singing of “God Bless America.”
Granted, America has her flaws. We’re certainly in a difficult spot now and I don’t know how long it will take to get past it.
I do know how it will be done. Not by denying the problems with glib chiding Americans for their “fearfulness.” It will be done, as so often in the past 233+ years, by work, generosity, and relying on God. This country, founded on Judeo-Christian values (which for the non-believer translates to natural law), draws its strength from people of all faiths being fabric of the U.S. For Catholics, that means assenting to and authentically living out their faith. Americans have been through tough times and will get through this one. As sung eight years ago, God Bless America.