Thursday, September 11, 2008

More on September 11

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
minutes before it was crushed by the collapse of Two World Trade Center
on September 11th, 2001

"O almighty and everlasting Father, King of kings and Lord of lords, Thou Who art the unfailing Protection of the faithful and the sure Hope of all who trust in Thee: As we mourn the sudden violence and deaths occasioned by the evil and barbarous attacks on our nation of September 11th, 2001 and celebrate the selfless heroism of the first-responders, we humbly beseech Thee to reveal unto us the immense power of Thine own goodness. Come swiftly to our aid, and have mercy upon all who call upon Thee. In Thy boundless compassion do Thou comfort those who mourn this day, bestow healing of body and soul to the survivors, and grant blessed repose in the bosom of Abraham to the souls of those departed this life. Vouchsafe unto us that peace which passeth all understanding that we may ascribe glory and thanksgiving unto Thee, together with Thine only-begotten Son and Thine all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."

(Prayer and photo from my bishop +BASIL of Wichita and Mid-America)

Like most people who were alive at the time and old enough to remember, I'll never forget where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. I was teaching seventh grade math. During my second period class, our principal came over the loudspeaker and told us about the attacks. Before long, hundreds of parents were waiting in a line that wrapped halfway around the building to pick up their children. (Coincidentally, this principal had been my high school Chemistry teacher, and it was in his class one day fifteen years earlier that I had first heard about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger).

One moment, the most important thing on my mind was teaching about fractions, or decimals, or something else equally insignficant. The next moment, all I could think about was my loved ones. Where were my wife and children? Were they safe? By third period, I had heard about the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of the airline in Pennsylvania. Like most Americans, I had every reason to think that there would be still more attacks. And of course, Houston, home of NASA and a great number of oil refineries and chemical plants, is a tempting target for those who would destroy America. Thankfully, as we all know, there were no further attacks.

I leave you with one other reflection. The most touching tribute that I saw to the victims of 9/11 (and by extension, to all of America) was when I watched the Coldstream Guards stop right in the middle of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and play the Star Spangled Banner. This was unprecedented; to the best of my knowledge, this had never happened before and has not since. I absolutely bawled when I saw it. I had a tremendous amount of bottled up emotion from having had to be nothing but a calm, assuring presence to my students. Now, it all came out. I would like to share with you a video of that event. I darn near cried when I watched it just a minute ago (for the first time since 9/11/01). I pray that it will be a blessing to you as well.

1 comment:

Paul said...

My wife was being rolled into surgery as the first plane hit. The waiting room was in shock. They didn't tell any of the patients until after they were stable from whatever procedure they were doing.

At first I thought this was just another movie until the announcers started talking. I still find it incredible every plane in the country was grounded within 1/2 hour.