The 9/11 attacks 15 years later

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I remember the shock and the horror of that day, watching it all unfold on television.  I also remember the unity that Americans felt in the aftermath–how we all pulled together, the emotions we all shared, from grief about those 3,000 who died to inspiration from those rescue workers who gave their own lives for others.  There was a palpable sense of patriotism in the days that followed the attacks, uniting conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, ordinary folks and the cultural elite.

I even thought that postmodernism might be over.  People were talking about good and evil, as if they were moral absolutes.  There wasn’t much moral relativism or cultural relativism when it came to the terrorists and what they did to our country.  And those planes flying into those buildings were not a “construction” of our own minds.  Truth must exist after all.

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9/11

Today is September 11, aka 9/11, a date that still resonates in infamy.  Where are we as a nation 14 years after those terrorist attacks?  We have waged two wars, more or less inspired by our anger over 9/11.  We killed Osama bin Laden and struck a strong blow against Al Qaeda, but now we have an even more monstrous enemy in ISIS.  We were brought together as a nation 14 years ago, but now we are polarized again.  In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, artists announced that “irony is dead,” but now irony, compounded by cynicism and nihilism are ascendant again.  Postmodern relativism was also supposed to be dead in the period of moral clarity right after the attacks, but now relativism has resumed its works of demolition.

So did the terrorists win?  Or was it just our naivete that collapsed with those towers?  Or was it something more?  Or have we settled into a long war against terrorism that we realize now will not be easy and that will take a nation-wide patience?  Or what?

The legacy of 9/11?

On this anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we’ve got to ask ourselves:  Did the terrorists win?  Or did America win?  And what did those attacks do to us?  Considerations after the jump. [Read more…]

It’s September 11

Has September 11 become a de facto grassroots holiday?  Do we need a day to remember the terrorist attacks in 2001 and to commemorate their victims?  Should it be officially recognized, like Memorial Day?  Or should we stop thinking about that nightmarish day and just move on?

Kamikaze update

You know that recent post about Heather Penney, the female pilot who was ordered to take down Flight 93 on 9/11 by ramming into it in a suicide attack?  Well, it gets even worse.   As far as she knew, her FATHER, a United pilot working out of the east coast, might have been flying that plane!

See  F-16 pilot was ready to down plane her father piloted on 9/11 – The Washington Post.

I asked what was disturbing about all of this, but some of you couldn’t seem to tell what I might be referring to, in some cases going so far as to laud her heroic willingness to sacrifice her life. Here are some things that bother me:

(1)  Our military was going to take down an airliner, killing all of these innocent Americans, which was what the terrorists were planning to do.  If the purpose was to defend the White House or the Capitol building, evacuate those structures.  But the military is supposed to defend their countrymen, not kill them.

(2)  Ordering a suicide attack is monstrous in itself.

(3)  If we have jet fighters ready to defend us, why were they unarmed?  What good are military aircraft without weapons?  Were we really so unprepared, not only to obtain intelligence of a terrorist attack, but also to counter a military attack against our country?

(4)  Yes, I’m bothered by women in combat.  That they are in airplanes, far above the fray, dropping bombs and shooting missiles, is supposed to make a difference?  Women have the power to bring new life into the world.  They shouldn’t be put in the position of ending people’s lives.

(5)  This woman would have not only killed strangers, but her own father?

 

The Cross at Ground Zero

Although I did not want to dwell too much on the 9/11 ten year anniversary, the occasion brought out some fascinating stories that are worth our reflection, even though the anniversary is behind us.  Like this one, on the Cross at Ground Zero:

The shape was oddly identifiable in the blasted wreckage of the World Trade Center, standing upright amid beams bent like fork tines and jagged, pagan-seeming tridents. A grief-exhausted excavator named Frank Silecchia found it on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks. A few days later, he spoke to a Franciscan priest named Father Brian Jordan, who was blessing remains at Ground Zero.

“Father, you want to see God’s House?” he asked. “Look over there.”

Father Brian peered through the fields of shredded metal. “What am I looking for?” he asked. Silecchia replied, “Just keep looking, Father, and see what you see.”

“Oh my God,” Father Brian said. “I see it.”

As Father Brian stared, other rescue workers gathered around him. There was a long moment of silence as he beheld what he considered to be a sign. Against seeming insuperable odds, a 17-foot-long crossbeam, weighing at least two tons, was thrust at a vertical angle in the hellish wasteland. Like a cross. . . .

Shortly after its discovery, Father Brian persuaded city officials to allow a crew of volunteer union laborers to lift it out of the wreckage by crane and mount it on a concrete pedestal. They placed it in a quiet part of the site, on Church Street, where on Oct. 3, 2001, Father Brian blessed it with the prayer of St. Bonaventure. “May it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee . . . ” When he finished, the crane operators sounded their horns, a choral blast.

Each week, Father Brian held services there. He became the chaplain of the hard hats. Whenever crews working to find the dead needed a blessing or a prayer or absolution, Father Brian would offer it. Sometimes victims’ families came to pray. The congregations grew from 25 or 35 to 200 and 300. . . .

In July, the nonprofit group American Atheists sued to remove it [from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum], calling it an unlawful and “repugnant” attempt to promote religion on public land. One group member told ABC News that it was “an ugly piece of wreckage” that connoted only “horror and death.”

via 9/11 memorials: The story of the cross at Ground Zero – The Washington Post.

It’s not necessary to accept this cross as a miraculous relic to appreciate what it means:  In the midst of the horrors of 9/11 and in the midst of all horrors, Christ–who took them all into Himself on His Cross–is there.

 

 

The Cross at Ground Zero

 

 

Cross at Ground Zero