Saturday, September 12, 2015

Reflecting on Sept. 11 and where we are now...

Yesterday, as we remembered the attacks on America Sept. 11, 2001 (and am also remembering those Americans killed on Sept. 11, 2012, in the terrorist attack in Benghazi), I gather that most Americans old enough to remember that day on 2001 were reflecting on several things yesterday: where they were, how they reacted, their true feelings for their country, and where they stood with God, good and evil.

Several things were crystal clear for me that day, and remain so today. I was living in NY at the time. I had plans to go to the World Trade Center that day - or at least had plans to go through it. My job was located in Jersey City, NJ, and to get there, I needed to take the PATH train which I caught by taking the E-train subway to the World Trade Center, walking through the WTC, and catching the PATH from beneath the World Trade Center. On some days, I worked from home, so it was rather arbitrary when I would actually make the trek to Jersey, but Tuesdays and Thursdays were pretty much a standard.

On Thursday Sept. 6 I stopped at the mall in the World Trade Center and spotted a jacket I wanted but held off on buying it, telling myself if it was still here next time I came in on the following Tuesday, it was meant to be.

When I woke up that next Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, I just wasn't up to making the venture to the the World Trade Center and subsequently, Jersey. I decided to go in the next day instead, and went out to take my morning run.

By the time I returned from my run, the world had changed.

A friend of mine and I watched the incredible black, deadly, evil plume of smoke that used to be the two towers, safely from a bridge. Almost immediately cars raced by us, their vehicles festooned with American flags. Military fighter jets flew just above us, so low and close, we thought it was another attack. The highways were closed and phones were down, cutting us off from the world. It took me a long while before I was able to contact my family in Michigan. I never felt so isolated, so scared, so numb and so sick at the same time.

My boyfriend at the time, who worked in lower Manhattan, was unreachable. Then again phone service, land line or mobile, was barely available, if at all. 

I went to church. My parish, barely occupied on a weekday, was packed. We knew what we needed. We needed prayer. We needed God. And the two comforts I took that day were that we turned to God, and we united as humans. The humanity I saw that day would have been any skeptic's proof that God exists.

My boyfriend was safe, and that night in my apartment he made us an Italian concoction from his grandmother's recipe of honey, brandy and bay leaves meant to quell nauseous stomachs, of which we both suffered. It didn't quite help.

What seemed to help a little was watching the US Congress convening to sing "God Bless America" and hearing the resolve in President George W. Bush as he spoke words of strength, encouragement, and comfort. I felt discombobulated but took refuge in his words. 

Despite the countless fliers for missing loved ones I saw everywhere, on the roads, on car windows, in stores, at my choir practice, not to mention the countless funeral processions I was inadvertently a part of while driving over the coming weeks, there seemed to be a resolve and renewed unity in America. That gave me hope.

Yesterday, I listened to replays of President George W. Bush's comments made that day regarding the attacks on America. His words made it clear that we were the victims, but not the defeated. He also made it clear that we would not stand for such treatment. There was no question whose side our president was on.

I can't help but think of America today. While historically America has been the most powerful force for good anywhere in the world, we have a president today who apologizes for America while visiting other countries. We have a president who denies America's Christian heritage, and a president who promotes things like homosexuality, organizations whose sole business is to murder unborn babies, and foreign policy that plays right into the hands of those who have called for death to America. 

Under his "leadership", I've seen more Americans who have come to embrace the idea that America is hateful, and that tolerance has more to do with a willingness to reject God's teachings and force others to act against their beliefs than than it does with genuinely accepting differences in one another. 

Under our current "leadership", too often we see that things that are good and of God are rebuked, rejected and ridiculed. The sanctity of life, morality, and proclaiming God's word are suspicious, hateful, bigoted. Wrong.

I think of the rescue workers, the firemen and policemen, who sacrificed their lives that day in 2001 by running toward the danger to help people they didn't know, while everyone else was running from the danger. I think of how policemen in our country today are being shot for sport because under our current "leadership", they have been painted as the enemy.

As difficult as it is to see where things stand today, though, I am not disheartened because I know Who leads the way. I only pray that God will enlighten us where we stand in the dark, that He will have mercy on us, and that He will show us the way to truth, which is love, liberty and justice for all.

Praying that God will continue to bless America, and that America will return to blessing God.

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