Yes, it is most appropriate to remember all those who died nine years ago today. Those who died included ordinary people who had gone to work in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, people who were flying in the plane over Pennsylvania and innocent by-standers. Then there were all of our public servants (Fire Fighters, Police Officers, health personnel, and others) and scores of volunteers, even a gay Catholic priest. And yes, even some Muslims. We must pray for all whom we have lost. Finally, as difficult as it may be, we are called to remember and pray for the terrorists because, as evil as their acts were, they are children of Allah, the same God as the the God of Christians and Jews.
Today also we must remember the families and friends of all those who have died in this tragedy. They, too, carry a burden of pain at the loss of their loved ones, whether one of the original victims or a responder. Too often those who remain behind feel abandoned, frustrated, angry, helpless, or hate-filled, Or they may feel guilty that it wasn’t they rather than the loved one who died. We must honor and support the now single parent who must raise a child alone, the mother whose son or daughter was her sole support, all the children who lost a parent, a brother or sister and must make a life without their support.
There are new victims whom we must remember and for whom we must pray, including those family members who can no longer go on with life and fall into the abyss themselves, those workers and public service men and women who today learn what it means to suffer cancer and other debilities from long-term exposure around this tragic site.
Finally, we must meditate and pray over the distrust and even hatred for the “other.” Both Islam and Christianity are being torn apart because of this tragedy. We must get beyond the distrust or hatred of a whole people, of the nations themselves, of different religions. There was a song during the 1960s, Give Peace a Chance.” We are called as believers and as Americans to work diligently to foster a world of justice with mercy and peace.
There are two phrases in the Catholic Liturgy that speak to me at this time, and I especially like to hear them in Latin: Vita mutatur non tollitur (Life is changed, not taken away) and Pax vobis (Peace to all).