By Father William Hamilton
Chaplain for the Mass. State Police, Springfield Police Dept., Easthampton Police and Fire Depts., Agawam Fire Dept., and ATF, overseeing the New England Field Division
The morning started out like any other. I was on retreat at Ender’s Island in Mystic, CT. The air was crisp and clean. The smell of the salt water permeated the air and the sky was a brilliant blue with no clouds in sight.
We were celebrating Mass in the Chapel when during the general intercessions, one of the workers came in and informed us that something was happening in New York; they thought a small private plane had hit one of the towers. We immediately prayed for all involved not knowing how serious this event would become.
Upon completing Mass, we were invited into the retreat house to watch the news. It was there that the full scope of reality was laid upon us. As we watched a second plane hit the towers. Not private, they were commercial. At that instant my pager for the Massachusetts State Police went off asking where I was and what my proximity to Headquarters was. I was on my way home now to await further instructions.
Fifteen years ago, we all watched in horror as what we knew of an American way of life, forever changed. Within the span of endless minutes, iconic towers tumbled to the ground planes crashed and the Pentagon attacked. Thousands of lives were lost. A willed and hate- filled event by an ideology that has existed from the beginning of time stole the little innocence we had left. A thought that somehow we cannot coexist together and share what is not ours has prevailed through the adverse actions of a few. However, there are still the masses of good people who would rather use, to the best of our abilities, what is for the common good.
Since that day, the moral fabric decayed, and unprecedented selfishness and entitlement have continued to grow in our land. Hatred abounds, fear is copiously laid upon us and we are frequently reminded that we are no more secure or peaceful now, than we were on that bright September morning 15 years ago.
Fifteen years later, we gather once again, promising to remember and to never forget. The question before us is what are we remembering and what are we not forgetting?
Thousands died that day, who are still mourned and whose seats at the table are still empty. Buildings were destroyed. Planes were crashed. Landscapes changed to burial grounds. But now, they are a fleeting memory as where they once stood are quiet tranquil memorials and new testaments to humankind’s dauntless tenacity to rebuild bigger and stronger.
Sadly, much of our collective memory remembers the horror, the hatred, the clouds of debris, the wailing of sirens and the crushing sounds of torn, twisted and melted steel.
Like the tranquil setting of Memorial Park and the new Trade Tower in New York,, would it not strengthen our resolve to remember that hatred is quenched by mercy, vengeance gives way to forgiveness and peoples of different races, creeds, and cultures can and do join hands in friendship?
Fifteen years later we are compelled by history and a dignity that only few in this world enjoy, to stand for what is right, good and just. Not living in fear or hatred, we strive to build a more fertile world, where all God’s children might live in true harmony and concord. This, like the Memorial Park and the new tower, the field in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, will be the legacy we leave to our children and our children’s children. That the memory of that fateful day did not cloud our vision, or lower us to a standard that is not ours, but challenged us to rise to an occasion that helped usher in a new world order of peace, justice, equality, mercy, compassion and forgiveness, seeking out the least in our midst and raising them to a new heights of dignity.
Let us pray then today for all victims of violence and terrorism around the world, and for their families, that they may find comfort and peace.
That the Governments and religious institutions may continue to provide care and healing for all, especially those affected by the attacks on September 11, 2001.
That national leaders may work together to address the problems that provide fertile ground for the growth of terrorism, and work together for an end to hatred and revenge and lead us in ways of mutual respect and dignity for all – with the ability to establish the ultimate gift of justice which is mercy.
And so we Pray:
God of faithfulness, we come before you today filled with both sorrow and hope. We are in need of your grace to redirect our hearts. We are in need of the fire of your love to rekindle and sustain our passion for justice. We are in need of your wisdom that we might recognize anew your presence dwelling within us, calling us to live as children of light and hope rather than of darkness and fear.
Be with us in our prayer this day. Help us to truly believe, not only in your abiding presence within and among us, but in the power of our prayer to move mountains.
Receive graciously into your kingdom, our colleagues who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting, serving and preserving our freedoms. Send your comforting spirit upon all who mourn their passing and fill them with the hope of your infinite love. Give them rest from their labors for their good deeds go before them. Give us who remain the assurances of faith and the resolve to continue their legacy in preserving life and true liberty by establishing your kingdom of justice, love and peace here and now, that we may fully experience on the day to come
All this we ask in the name of Jesus our brother, who shares our lives and yours, in the unity of the Spirit, one God, Forever and ever. Amen.