By Barb Arland-Fye
Today’s high school students were in preschool through second grade when unimaginable terrorism jolted our nation on Sept. 11, 2001, and provoked a series of actions with haunting consequences.
My son Patrick, a first-grader at the time, was riding in the car of a family friend that day when they passed a tall bank building and he asked our friend if a plane was going to crash into that building, too.
On Sunday we’ll observe the 10th anniversary of that Day of Infamy which galvanized our nation to go to war, just as the other Day of Infamy did nearly 60 years earlier on Dec. 7, 1941. Both times, war led to staggering loss of life and enduring suffering on the part of innocent civilians. World War II is referred to as the “good war.” Can any war truly be called a good war?
As I imagine has been the case in many households, our family has discussed the “war on terrorism” and its ramifications. “There will be no end to war until this world becomes friendlier,” my son Patrick says. From personal experience, we know that’s a tall order: making the world friendlier requires plenty of patience and dying to self at home, school, work, the supermarket, and on the road. It means striving to practice what Jesus would do, and not giving up when we fall short.
St. Paul has the solution to all conflicts — owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another, observed Bishop Robert Gruss during his homily Sept. 4 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. The new bishop of Rapid City, S.D., was back home in the Davenport Diocese for a visit, and delivered a timeless message about the need to extend Christian love — a love not defined by emotion or sentiment — even to those we don’t like or who don’t like us.
“This anniversary offers us an opportunity to reflect the values of the God to whom we have given our allegiance,” says Pax Christi USA, in the close of its statement commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“Let us remember those who were lost and memorialize this day by committing our lives to ‘the things that make for peace’ — drawing closer to those who suffer, cultivating understanding in the midst of suspicion, finding truth in the arguments of those with whom we disagree, embracing some measure of personal sacrifice today to make a better world for our children and grandchildren tomorrow ….”
In a letter to his brother bishops, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, shared information and a link to resources for local efforts to observe the anniversary (www.usccb.org). He concluded his letter with this thought: “As the nation is focused on the events of 9/11, I know you will join me in praying for healing, peace and reconciliation for our country and world.”
Among the commemorative events being held Sept. 11 in the Davenport Diocese is one that starts at 2 p.m. in Clinton at the Freedom Tree Site, Millcreek Parkway and Iowa 136. Clinton Trees Forever planted trees at the site nine years ago as a living and growing legacy dedicated to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Sister Hilary Mullany of the Sisters of St. Francis will be one of three featured speakers, each reflecting on a perspective of 9/11 – past, present and future. The Sisters will be involved in other peace awareness events this month, featured on Page 3.
In my own life, on Sept. 11 and every day, I’ll ask for God’s help to put my prayers for healing, peace and reconciliation into practice.