Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Where were you on September 11th? This is a frequently asked question that many of us have asked since that tragic day in 2001. For those who were youngsters at the time or those not yet born, this may have no relevance or be of little substance. I get it. The conversations of grandparents, aunts, and uncles about December 7th didn’t really impact me as a young person nor did events in a distant country called Vietnam. Like our elders who witnessed other tragedies, those of us who recall September 11th are still vivid and may evoke deep emotion. It was the day the impossible actually happened: America was under attack on our own turf!
At least it seemed impossible for folks of my generation who hadn’t experienced domestic attacks of this magnitude. It was surreal and made us all feel vulnerable. The Titanics of New York’s skyscrapers were unsinkable. The Pentagon was the last place on earth that one could imagine falling prey to intruders. And now we know about a small town in western Pennsylvania. For millions, our worldview was shattered.
This fateful shattering invited my generation to see America and our relationship to the world a bit differently as the political and social unrest of the Middle East became more familiar in years to come. Arabic and Persian names and words were added to my vocabulary. Once “way over there” became more geographically proximate to us. Global economics and diplomatic efforts were of greater interest.
My appreciation of the catholicity of the Church grew as I learned of the struggles for fellow Christians to freely practice their faith and exercise their inherent freedoms. And learning of the status of women and girls. Indeed, with the shattering of our worldview came a deeper appreciation of belonging to a global community.
Twenty years later and recently having exited this tiresome war – no matter how badly the exit was carried out – what have we learned? We must have asked this question before, right?
To all people of good will: peace on Earth.