For most of us, the pain and tragedy of that cloudless day in September is still very raw. Reflecting on the eleventh anniversary of September 11th, 2001, it is impossible to forget the brave men and women who rushed in to the burning buildings to save those inside serving as heroes up until their last breaths, with no hesitation to respond in that moment of crisis. There were a lot of heroes that day.
First responders continued their work amidst the tragedy even after the towers fell. Family and friends consoled one another in their moments of loss in the weeks that followed. Local service providers, including Catholic Charities agencies, stretched to do whatever they could to ease the pain of those affected by the attacks. Communities responded to the needs of the families and loved ones left behind; knowing that things would never be quite the same.
The events of that terrible day had us all holding our loved ones a little tighter, while at the same time reaching out to those around us who might need a little extra support in getting past the tragedy.
While eleven years later we still struggle to find meaning in the tragic events of that day, the humanity and courage evident in our reaction as a nation continues to give us hope.
The strength we embodied has not disappeared. Those heroes still surround us every day. Whether they prepare for catastrophic response, counsel those suffering a loss from other means, provide services to families in need in the wake of disaster, or simply work to foster healing, those heroes serve in communities throughout the country without thinking twice.
Eleven years later, we still hold all of those who senselessly lost their lives in prayer and we know that there is still a vacuum in the lives of their loved ones. And we remember those who rushed in without preparation or best practices to do what they could in the face of overwhelming tragedy. We salute the sacrifice of those who lay down their lives for friends and strangers alike, and we live in gratitude for their example and their sacrifice. But we cherish the knowledge that in their wake, a new generation of heroes emerges. One that serves in both tragic and commonplace moments. And one whose work is equally important to the fabric of this nation.