On Saturday, Sept. 11, our nation remembers the attacks on our country 20 years ago. It was an event that changed everyone’s perception of the reality of our world. Just about 10 years before, we had witnessed the end of the Soviet Union, which had been the great enemy of America throughout most of the 20th century. Perhaps a future of peace and freedom and cooperation among nations lay before us. Sept. 11 showed us that this was not to be the case.
On that terrible day, 265 people died on the four airplanes (including the 19 highjackers), 2,606 in and around the World Trade Center, including many police officers, firemen and other first responders, and 125 at the Pentagon. That day stands as the most deadly terrorist attack in history.
Each of those who died was a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister, or friend. They left behind shattered families, and shattered communities. In addition to the national tragedy, each was a personal tragedy that impacted many, many lives.
That day also launched America’s wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Each of these has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. It is somewhat ironic that we ended our involvement in Afghanistan just this past week, with the collapse of that country’s government and army, and the victory of the Taliban. It will take generations for our nation to recover from the effects of those conflicts and to regain the standing that we had before. Once again, these wars were not merely national tragedies but personal tragedies for those who have returned wounded and impaired, physically and emotionally, and for grieving families who have lost loved ones.
Sadly, we see conflict and havoc throughout our world that is a direct result of the events of 9/11 and the rise of a violent and aggressive fundamentalist Islam. Most of this is actually directed at other believers in Islam.
On this Saturday, we express our grief and sadness at the loss of life, on that day and in the wars and conflicts since then, and the pain of so many left behind. We also must pray for our leaders and the leaders of the world, that they will work together to find effective ways of addressing these ongoing threats. Finally, we pray for the conversion and healing of all human hearts, so that we can recognize one another as brothers and sisters, rise above those things that divide and separate us.
—Fr. Mike Comer