Remembering that Day

It’s September 11th…and once again people are remembering where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the planes flying into the World Trade Center.

I was home, sitting at my computer desk bundled up in my soft robe.  At that time, our computer was in the kitchen, so we could monitor the kids’ activity and help with homework.  My kids were at school, and I was checking email before heading to the Moms Group at my parish.  I had the area Christian radio station on, and the announcer read a very brief statement about an airplane crashing into one of the towers.  It was clearly tragic, but at that point no one knew what was about to follow.

I didn’t turn on the television.  Instead, I started getting ready to take a shower.  It was then that my sister called me.  “Did you hear?  There was a second plane!”  I nearly collapsed at the realization that this was no mere accident, but an intentional act.  I even referred to it as an “act of war,” which upset my sister at the time.  Was I being overly dramatic?

My husband worked an odd shift back then.  He was in bed when the planes hit NYC.  I remember going to the Moms Group…it wasn’t canceled because, at that point, we had no idea how severe the attack was.  We all talked about the news, somewhat dazed.  Most of these moms had very young kids, so they barely heard the news reports as they shuffled kids either to school or got them ready for the playgroup in the adjoining room.  We prayed for NYC and all the families that were impacted.

When I got home, my husband was on the couch in the front of the TV.  “They’re gone,” he said.  “The towers are gone.”  I was so confused…how could two very tall skyscrapers just be “gone?”  So I sat down and watched the news, seeing that now famous clip of the towers collapsing and people running in the streets to get away from the smoke and rubble.

I was stunned.  Shocked.  Dazed.  Here it was, a gorgeous September morning, and our nation was in a state of collective grief.

I don’t remember many other details of that day.  My pastor, Father Doug, called and said we would be having a special Mass the following evening.  Our church was packed, as many were that week.  People desperately needed to seek comfort and solace.  In the midst of tragedy, communities grew closer.  American flags were popping up everywhere.  Even the MLB leadership decided to replace “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with “God Bless America” during the post-season 7th inning stretch.  Patriotism and faith in God were proudly displayed.

Here we are, less than a generation later, and churches have empty seats on Sundays.  Flags come out for patriotic holidays, if we’re lucky.  Kids in school are mocked for belief in God or outward expressions of pride in our country.  Something is wrong with this picture.

Isn’t there more than enough tragedy in this world for us to turn to God and seek His help?  Aren’t there enough struggles in our communities to convince us to reach out to our neighbors?  Don’t we have enormous blessings in this country that should make us “Proud to be an American?”

I hope we wake up and realize what we have, and soon.  I pray it doesn’t take another massive tragedy to bring us to our knees.  May God save us from our complacency.

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