Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Requiem Eterna et Lux Perpetua . . . September 11 thoughts

At the site of the World Trade Center, eight of the 16 acres have been converted into a memorial to remind visitors of the past and give hope to the future. The memorial is continuing to grow but currently includes twin pools in the place where the Twin Towers once stood, with the names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks inscribed in bronze. The museum is a growing collection of photos, video, materials and artifacts from that fateful 9-11 day.

There is no doubt in my own mind that this day, like December 7, 1941, is, in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, " . . . a day that shall live in infamy."  It is almost impossible to believe that it has been 11 years since that awful day, and as I have been watching some of the 9/11 documentaries about people who managed to get out of the towers and testimonies from families whose loved ones died, both in New York as well as in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, I am struck anew at how much grieving is still going on in our country over this terrible catastrophy.  I have also thought often about those individuals who left home that morning, perhaps there was a family disagreement, a fight with one of the kids over homework or going to a friend's house, perhaps a husband and wife who were having problems or who had hurtful words over money or mothers-in-law or their unpredictable teenage kids.  I think often that these people have an additional burden to bear--knowing that the last words spoken between them and their loved one(s) was in anger or frustration.

It is another reminder that none of us knows what will come upon us, where we will find ourselves, what may happen that is both positive or negative each day.  We start out feeling pretty good about stuff, but by the time we "lay it down" that night we are so glad that particular day is over.  But I think September 11, 2001, is another graphic reminder--as if all of us hasn't already had way too many of those--that we daren't leave our spouses, our kids, those who are important to us without a word of praise, of encouragement, of love, of a sense that they are truly as important to us as we know in our hearts.  I have gone to so many funerals where families have been "stuck" because of not being given just one more chance to tell their loved one that they were loved and cherished.  

This day is also another reminder how quickly such catastrophic events begin to fade into our longterm memory.  The week the towers and the Pentagon were attacked and the plane went down in a pasture in Pennsylvania, families were getting together, community groups gathered in public parks, churches, synagogues and all kinds of worship centers were filled with people whose hearts were stunned, whose minds still couldn't even imagine such a thing occurring.  Yet here we are over a decade later, and the day passes without a whole lot of notice by thousands who are going on about their day.  Hopefully many of us paused for a moment of holy remembrance, of sending good thoughts and perhaps prayers toward those whose hearts are still grieving at some level, some worse than others.  And I want to end this with the ages old prayer that has been quoted in both word and music in honor of those whose lives were lost that day:

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, 
And perpetual light shine upon them.
In your mercy bring them into the glory of your presence.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.  Amen.

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