Twenty years. It seems impossible and yet, images from that day can sometimes bring us right back to the shock and sadness that we felt, the heroism that we observed, and the patriotism that we shared on September 11, 2001.
Those of us who were alive in 2001 will never forget where we were on that fatal morning. We did not anticipate that the beauty of a warm and clear Tuesday morning would soon be filled with smoke, horror, and tragedy. When confronted with this reality and uncertainty, we all reacted in different ways. I was a pastor at the time and opened up the church and began the Rosary. Within a short time, the church was full, and it continued for the whole day as we understood little by little what had happened. The parish was just across the harbor from Logan Airport in Boston, and we came to realize that two of the planes had left earlier that day from that very airport, a usually welcoming place which we now saw in a darker light as the opening of a tragedy. The realization left us all feeling hopeless. But as the hours and days wore on, hope finally followed and the hope was real. It came in the heroic actions of first responders, the brave demeanor of elected leaders, and the generosity of ordinary people. We saw much good amidst the evil. We must always remember that and pass our shared experience along to our young people, many of whom were not alive or were too young to understand what was happening.
To honor the heroes on the 20th anniversary of that dark day, let us truly recommit to bringing light and hope to the world around us. How do we do that? By reflecting on God’s gifts of love and mercy and thinking about ways in which we can share those gifts with people in our lives and communities. Nurture hope, seek to do a merciful act, try to understand and appreciate others, and focus on the positives of each person you encounter. Be a sign of hope for those around you. It may not seem that it will make a great difference, but in this way, you will help point our country and world on the course to a better day, much like the countless heroes who answered the call to serve neighbors and strangers on one of our nation’s worst days.
Jesus seeks to open our hearts to God’s love and mercy. May we receive that message in an active way by practicing mercy ourselves in union with our generous Father. Let us not forget the memory of the innocent victims of September 11, 2001. May we always show true gratitude for their lives and remember them and their families in our prayers.