photo of Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA

Reflection on Nine Eleven

This September 11th marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most devastating events in American history: the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  A fourth plane, believed to be aimed at the White House or the Capitol Building, was foiled by the actions of the brave souls aboard United flight 93. Their struggle ended in a fiery crash in the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The horrors of 9/11 will live forever in the memories of a generation and in the annals of history. One image that stays with me is the photo of Fr. Mychal Judge, Chaplain of the New York Fire Department, who with hundreds of police, firemen, and other first responders rushed into the inferno to save the lives of others. Fr. Mychal administered the sacraments of Last Rites to those who were lying in the streets and prayed for the city and its victims. Moments later he was struck in the head by flying debris and killed. Fr. Mychal Judge was given the highest honor – he was designated “Victim 0001.”

The grief that filled our hearts that day and in the weeks that followed transformed us.  We became a nation united; united in our commitment to seek justice and care for the families of all of the victims, and in our resolve to rebuild in a way that would be greater than ever before.

We will relive the events of 9/11 once again, as we have done for the previous nine years. This year we will commemorate lost mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers with a memorial that rises out of the ashes and pit of destruction of ten years ago.  But I urge us not to stop there. I can think of no greater way to honor the thousands who lost their lives in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania than to reclaim our unity as a nation. Let not their unwilling sacrifice be in vain. As we rebuild America let us once again rush in, as a country of peace and justice, to create an even better country that is dedicated to the common good. We can. We will. We must.