A Brief Reflection on September 11, 2001


It began as a wonderful summer morning in New York- crisp and clear, with a touch of fall and its bounty. Unsuspecting travelers boarded aircraft, perhaps looking forward to flying in such beautiful weather and the stunning views to be had with a cup of coffee by the passenger window. It ended in fire and ash and tragedy. There were countless displays of courage under fire and many acts of heroism, some of which will never be known.

Like other tragedies- the loss of the Titanic, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John F. Kennedy- the events of 9/11 have seared themselves into the nation’s consciousness. But 9/11 was unique, too. There was no glamorous setting in an ocean liner, and no hint that people would be struck down by the tides of geopolitics or terrorist malevolence. The sheer loss of life and ordinariness of the victims, newly arrived for work at the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, settling down for a routine day that was supposed to be like any other day, compels our attention.

So while there should be observations on the lessons to be learned from 9/11, it is above all a time to remember that the holes burned into the ground also burned a path to our souls. They forged our compassion for the thousands of victims and the many more thousands of bereaved who bear the scars to this day. Without ever knowing them, we remember the dad who never made it home from the firehouse and the mom who never came home from the office, the son who flew a routine flight, the daughter who was excited at her internship in the glittering towers, the brother who had a presentation to give at the Pentagon, and the neighbor who never came back to his apartment in Hoboken that night, or to her car at the Long Island Railroad station.

So let us remember. And may we find the wisdom to fulfill our resolution of “Never Again”.