This morning I ran in to a friend of mine who was one of the survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center Towers. He was working in the building when the first plane hit. We talked about the day, and I could still see the pain in his eyes, even after 15 years. I also thought about other friends of mine who lost their son, Alfred (employee of Cantor Fitzgerald), in the attack and another friend who lost her father (fireman). Her wedding is coming up in October. We had a special remembrance at our Church today which ended with a bag piper playing AMAZING GRACE and a NYC Fireman walking through carrying a folded flag (like those given at a funeral). I looked out from the altar and saw many parishioners crying. We were all affected by this horrific act of terrorism, and must never forget it. I still remember how we ALL pulled together in prayer and action right after September 11th. We have lost so much of that. A friend of mine, Deacon John Clymore, wrote the following article about his experiences that day. He has given me permission to share it with you. Here is his article:
THE FIRST DAY What a beautiful day it was; a sky lit up in blue with the most beautiful clouds. I Was just starting my work day on Halsey Street in downtown Newark, NJ. I was working for The Commission for The Blind & Visually Impaired for the State. My work was with the executive director for this branch of service who was blind since the age of seven, having lost both eyes to infection. I would read for her and put it on cassette; I would also bring her to different locations in the state and the surrounding states. On this, what was to be a day of destruction, I was in my office when shortly after 0800 a jet hit one of the towers, and someone yelled that the tower was struck. We gathered in the lobby of the 5th floor where there was a television. At first we thought it was a terrible accident and so we prayed. Then the second tower took a hit and we realized we were attacked and there was absolutely nothing we could do but pray. Never had I ever felt so defenseless and different emotions took their turn on me; fear, anger, sadness just some of those running through me. At about 0900 a decision was made to close the building and to send employees home. Here was the start of a very long day. Many of the dozens of employees were blind, many had working dogs and they needed to be brought home. I had a state vehicle that held two passengers and their dogs. They lived in northern Jersey and on a normal day, it would take less than an hour to take them home, but not this day. It took about three hours to deliver them to their homes. Now the journey home, I lived in south jersey in a little borough named Union Beach. The NJ turnpike and the parkway south would actually be quicker going home with very little traffic heading south, but across the lanes going north were police, fire, and military vehicles heading to NY City to aid in the ongoing rescue after the collapse of the twin towers. Upon arriving home I walked to the beach where directly across the bay lay NY City. Now, where the towers stood, were dust & ashes with the sky full of black smoke. The beach was covered with hundreds of people, the time about three o’clock in the afternoon. People were walking back and forth praying the rosary. People were sobbing openly not knowing how to help or what to do.
THE SECOND DAY Holy Family Catholic Church was overflowing for morning Mass, people praying, people still sobbing some not knowing whether family were alive or dead, for many in Monmouth county worked in the towers. We were watching nervously the rescue taking place on the TV hoping and praying that people would be found alive in the rubble. The terrible deed would cost many lives. First responders lost hundreds, and many firemen and police were killed
THE THIRD DAY The church is overflowing again and people were in prayer and sobbing still. There was so much respect and a different attitude toward each other, no matter what color race or culture we were, we were one, we were Americans. Back to the present day, the leadership of AMERICA causes division amongst races, culture, and religion; shame on the political powers for doing this. It is from both major parties; they are a disgrace from the White House down to the street.
THE FOURTH DAY
The Church is still overflowing with people still as one in prayer and pain with no place to turn but GOD. Back to today, society takes the Jews and Christians and throws them to the wolves, especially the Catholics. What has Greed and political powers cost the people of AMERICA? Wake up AMERICA and get back to who we are.
THE FIFTH, SIXTH, AND SEVENTH DAY
The Holy Church is still overflowing. There is not a sound from the sky except that of nature. For there is a no fly zone throughout America and this silence is different. There is a story circulating, a line dozens deep standing outside of St Patrick Cathedral, for it is filled with people waiting to enter. Outside there is a reporter asking questions and she stops in front of a gentle man and asks “are you Catholic” and he answers “no, I am a Jew.” She said, “Why are you standing in a line to enter a Catholic Church?” He responded, “To pray”. The reporter said, “Shouldn’t you be at a Synagogue” and his response is amazing. He said, “No the Catholic doors are open to all and this is a time when we all need to pray together!!!” Peace Deacon John Clymore
My friends, how true this last statement is. I believe that Deacon John Clymore did a wonderful job of not only sharing what he saw happening, but also pointed out the extreme difference 15 years has made. After the horrific attack, our country pulled together, under God, and saw each other as fellow Americans. Today God plays a small role in the lives of most Americans, and we seem so divided. We cannot forget this terrible act of terrorism against our country, and we should not forget how we must turn to God and towards each other as Americans. Let us work towards better unity within our country and let us remember that our National Motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.