Monday, September 12, 2011


In Remembrance

9/11 is a time to remember.  Cecilio Gonzalez was a Sergeant with the NYC Health Department Police Unit.  On that morning he dropped his son off at school and headed to the area he normally patrols.  He noted an extraordinary amount of traffic, but when he turned to look at the WTC he saw tower 1 billowing smoke.  Unable to use his normal route, he finally got off the freeway to see police and firefighters on their way to the scene.  He thought, "There are my brothers and sisters in red and blue, doing what they do best!"  When he arrived he and set up a perimeter and an incident command center for the health department.  He managed traffic to let first responder vehicles through.  He drove his own truck to local pharmacies to pick up medical supplies.  He went for water, he went for orange juice (that was donated on the spur of the moment,) he did whatever he could do for 16 hours straight.  That night with 20 other officials he secured the perimeters of lower Manhattan.  Then Cecilio went home and cried for 3 days.  He says, "Till this day I still see the yellow haze and feel the choking dust in my lungs, oh yeah I was given a souvenir "WTC Cough", 1 year later I still have it."

In the book of Genesis 11 of Jacob’s sons sold the 12th , Joseph, into slavery because of jealousy, but God was with Joseph and he soon became second in command under Pharaoh.  When Jacob died the other brothers feared reprisal.  Joseph remembered what they had done, but he also remembered what God had done.  It is important to remember well and to place one’s memories in the context of faith.  What were you doing that day?  What was your response?  To whom did you say that you loved them?  How did you avail yourself of your faith on that day?  We must never forget.

9/11 is a time to forgive.  Sharon woke up normally on that morning and went to work in New Jersey.  At work a co-worker told her of the events.  She began to wonder and to fear.  What else would happen?  Who could have done this?  Nobody knew, nobody seemed to have any information.  She began to try to pray the Lord's Prayer.  She got stuck on "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  She couldn't stop thinking of all the people who got up that morning and slapped their alarm clocks, showered, grabbed coffee and rushed off to work like she did, but never came home.  In subsequent days, aware of the ease with which our lives can end she committed herself to approach every other fragile life with love, not hate.

The heinous nature of what we suffered that day cannot be denied or minimized.  There is no justifying and there is no forgetting.  But there is forgiving.  Humanity was forgiven the most heinous act of all—of killing God on the cross.  We have been forgiven all the little and big things we've done since.  We've even been forgiven what we don't realize yet that we have done, although someday we will.  It is only right that we forgive as we have been forgiven.  He who does not forgive cuts himself off from the Father, and condemns himself to bear an unbearable load of bitterness and grief, making himself one more casualty of the offense.  Jesus teaches us over and over to forgive.  For the Christian there must be forgiving.

9/11 is a time to live differently.  Pat was an Airforce E-6, Master Staff Sergeant assigned to the Pentagon on September 11th.  He is also a master mechanic and maintains all of his own vehicles.  On that morning could not get any of his household vehicles to start.  When he finally got his wife's car running he left for work.  As he approached the Pentagon he watched in horror as American Airlines Flight 77 crashed through is office window.  He spent the next two days pulling the wounded and the dead out of the wreckage; when he got home his uniform went into the trash.  Pat is now retired.  He lives in Florida with his wife.  His children are all grown, the house is paid off.  He says, "We have enough," and he spends his time doing volunteer work in his community.  It is something he never would have done before 9/11 but the experience of it changed his life.

How has it changed yours?  You weren’t in the towers.  You weren’t in those rooms at the Pentagon.  You weren’t on flight 93.  You live among a people who are good under pressure.  You have a lot to be grateful for.  How best will you express it in view of today, the 10th anniversary of that day?

9/11: A time to remember, a time to forgive, a time to live differently.

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