Where were you on September 11, 2001? This is one of the watershed days where we all remember where we were and what we were doing. It was a beautiful day and we were all going about our daily routines when, at 8:45 am, the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Then, a second plane struck the South Tower. In addition, a plane struck the Pentagon, in Washington, and a fourth plane would have struck either the Capitol or the White House, were it not for a few of the passengers who forced the pilots to crash the plane in Shanksville, PA. Over 3,000 people died in those accidents, and we were all left wondering how something like this could happen.
I was celebrating morning Mass in Bayonne when all of this occurred, and when I returned to the rectory, the women were telling me what happened. I turned on the television and saw what was happening. It was an incredible sight. We clergy were called to the hospital in case there were a number of wounded brought there. I parked my car on the top of the parking deck across from the hospital, and as I looked over to New York City, I saw the black smoke rising from where the WTC had stood. Eleven people from Bayonne died in the fall of the towers, two of whom were on the first plane that crashed into the North Tower. There were three residents from Springfield who died in the fall of the towers: JoAnn L. Heltibridle, Lee Adler and Thomas A. Clark. Today we commemorate the 15th anniversary of that fateful day. Yet, it always seems like it happened only yesterday. There are services in different parts of New Jersey, as well as in other areas of the country, including Washington and Shanksville. There is always a service in Bayonne, in which I am privileged to participate. These services are always solemn experiences, as they remember the loved ones who died on that day.
One of the questions asked on that day was: “Where was God?” God was in the first responders who ran into harm’s way, as well as in those citizens who helped rescue the survivors in those buildings. Those people were the real heroes on that day, as they attempted to bring people to safety. Somehow, as a nation we survived the events of that day, but our world and our country have never been the same. Who would ever think that an airplane would become a means of death and destruction.
On this very solemn day, it is good for us to remember those who died, but also those who helped the survivors. But it is also good to remember that we are sent as signs of the Lord to care for others, like the father in today’s Gospel cared for his son who spent his money foolishly. The Lord reminds us of all that we can be for one another, how we have the opportunity to offer one another a different way to live, and in the process come to discover the wonder that he is for all of us. He sends us forth as agents of healing and hope to a world desperately needing both. The events of 9/11 only reinforce and remind all of us of its importance in our lives, our country and our world.
A PEACEFUL 9/11!!
~ FR. JOE!