Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In Memoriam...September 11th

September 11th, 2001.  The day began bright and clear in western Oregon.  I first learned of the tragedy on the way in to the office, and I was in such a state of shock that I had to come home shortly after I arrived.  I recall a co-worker almost brushing it off and getting back to the office routine, but I just couldn't do it.  It may have been Oregon, but our thoughts and prayers were certainly with the good people of New York City that day--and the dark days that followed.

The attack happened only six-months, or so, after we bought our house in south Salem.  I remember standing on the front steps of our home and looking into the cloudless blue the sky.  Not one aircraft could be seen.  Everything seemed eerily quiet in our neighborhood, as well.  As the footage of the falling towers was played over and over again, I just sat in shock watching the news reports; it seemed to just get worse and worse.  In particular, it was heartbreaking to witness the people leaping to their deaths from the windows of the burning towers.  It wasn't just debris raining on the streets below, but lives.

I was profoundly thankful for the powerful leaders we had at the time in New York and Washington D.C.  Mayor Rudy Giuliani indeed made us all proud, and President Bush gave the steady hand of leadership that we all needed so terribly at that time.  There were innumerable heroes that day, as well.  We should never forget the selflessness of people such as Todd Beamer and those many emergency responders.  The world has certainly changed much since that September day a decade ago, but the heroes' names will be remembered forever, while the terrorists' names are already fading from collective memory.

In memory of the nearly 3,000 murdered that day (more than 10% of them belonging to the FDNY family), I'd like to share the Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero.  The sculptor is my father-in-law, John Carroll Collier.  I hope you will read about the memorial and take a moment to look at the sculptures.  Better yet, hopefully you can make the journey and see it personally at Saint Joseph's Chapel of Saint Peter's Roman Catholic Church in New York City.  Although we witnessed the exhibit before it was transported to New York, I hope to visit Saint Joseph's Chapel in NYC at some point in the future to see the pieces again.  In particular, the sculpture of Saint Michael was deeply inspiring.  

I had the opportunity to spend time with John a few months after the 9-11 tragedy, and I remember him talking to me about his idea for a memorial.  I'm indeed glad that something meaningful like this has been created to honor those killed on that day and remind us all that any permanence or truth is illusory unless firmly anchored in our savior, Jesus Christ.

Sharing a Few Words on Appeasement

There are a couple of misconceptions that arise out of well-meaning people's reflections or search for meaning concerning the 9-11 tragedy.  First, it's important to bear in mind that the admonition to "turn the other cheek" fails to apply to nations; it's directed at individuals. Nowhere in Scripture or sacred writings are nations instructed to leave their citizens without a defense.  (Saint Thomas Aquinas reinforces the right of self-defense as well as just war within his masterpiece Summa Theologica.)  This isn't to say, of course, that we should be quick to war, but it's important that we understand government's moral obligation to defend its citizens.  We may not always agree with our nation's course--especially perhaps with regards to the Bush Doctrine--but we would be wise to grasp its true responsibility before we offer the criticism. 

Second, I don't subscribe to the view that we permit terrorists to (in effect) encourage our own introspection over national policy. Better that this dialogue and introspection be sparked by something other than horrific acts against God and man. While real good may be mysteriously wrought from terrible injustice and evil, whining "Why do they hate us?" comes too close to legitimizing the work of the terrorists--giving them some of what they want. It also bears the dangerous trademarks of appeasement.  Evil should neither be coddled nor appeased, but extinguished with courage and determination.  

Instead, let's focus on prayer for the fallen and prayer for our continued safety. Later, we can take a second look at matters of social justice. I suggest avoiding the connection of the two lest we give the terrorists a voice they should never have.  Lastly, forgiveness is something for which we can continually strive.  Forgiveness in this context does not betray a naivete with regards to national security, but, instead, it focuses upon our personal reaction to tragedies of this nature.  

Perhaps a reasonable argument can be made that I'm splitting hairs here, that its only natural that good--e.g. issues of social justice--flow from the evil of 9-11.  I suggest, however, that we seriously consider the ramifications of giving a voice to the terrorists and indirectly helping their causes.  If we, for example, make a personal decision against further support of Israel (a terrible personal choice, incidentally), it would be foolish to do so because of the terrorists that murdered our brothers and sisters that day.    


St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

9-11 Links (in no particular order)

9-11 Memorial 
Flight 93 Memorial
Todd Beamer
9-11 Digital Archive
9-11 Events Timeline
News Archive
911 Photos (Google)
Memorial Commentary
Sept. 14th Memorial Service Recording

Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero Dedication
"Sculpting a Tribute" from EpiscopalLife
USCCB's 9/11 Memorial Page
Pope Benedict's message on 9/11
Blog Touching Upon Catholic Memorial

Wiki Leaks' Pager Data 

Homeland Security

(As a last aside, if anyone else experienced strange dreams shortly before 9-11, I would be very interested to hear from you.  I've heard bits and pieces of accounts, but I never retained any details of others' dream accounts.  I'd be happy to share more info on my own outside of my blog.) 

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