It has been ten years since we saw the horrifying images of airliners crashing into theTwinTowersof the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, ten years since we saw people plunging to their deaths to avoid being burned to death in the doomed towers. It has been ten years since we saw the images of the heroic New York Fire Department Firefighters and the Policemen of the NYPD and Port Authority rush into the towers to save those that they could at a terrible cost to themselves. 343 NYFD Firefighters died in the towers, 23 NYPD Officers and 37 Port Authority Police died alongside their firefighter brothers and sisters. A total of 2977 souls perished that terrible day. Most were Americans but 60 countries lost citizens in the attacks. 6236 American military personnel 559 British military personnel and 707 other coalition or NATO allied troops have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. Another 45170 American military personnel have been wounded.
For those at the sites or personally affected or those that would go to war in the days, months and years that followed the day is etched forever in our minds. How can it not be? Our world changed that day. Our country had its illusion of security shattered and despite the efforts of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men that sense of security will never return. The intervening years have brought further shocks to us.
What began as the “New American Century” where we stood unchallenged militarily, economically and even morally has collapsed upon us like the fallen TwinTowers. Our military is worn out, our economy in tatters and our reputation as a “city set on a hill” soiled by some of our actions and policies in the wake of those attacks. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks much if not most of the world stood with us. I remember the image of the German Guided Missile Destroyer Lütjens steaming alongside the USS Winston Churchill with a banner which simply stated “We stand by you.” That sentiment is no longer there in many parts of the world. Yet many people still stand with us and mourn this occasion hoping for a better future even as others are talking of our “long slow decline” in almost celebratory fashion.
Today is a day for somber reflection as individuals and as a nation. Memorial services and other events will mark the day. Hopefully we all can come together as a nation as we did on that terrible day to honor and remember all those that lost their lives in the attacks and those in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations during the war on terrorism.
Though Mayor Bloomberg has excluded any formal clergy participation or prayers from the WTC Memorial Service it still is appropriate for Christians and all people of faith to offer prayers for the victims, their families and survivors of the attacks as well as the peace of this nation and world.
God of the ages, before your eyes all empires rise and fall yet you are changeless. Be near us in this age of terror and in these moments of remembrance. Uphold those who work and watch and wait and weep and love. By your Spirit give rise in us to broad sympathy for all the peoples of your earth. Strengthen us to comfort those who mourn and work in large ways and small for those things that make for peace. Bless the people and leaders of this nation and all nations so that warfare, like slavery before it, may become only a historic memory. We pray in the strong name of the Prince of Peace. Amen. (From the September 11th Litany published by the National Council of Churches)