September 11, 2020

Editorial

As we prepare for November, let’s not forget poem’s 9/11 message

Like many of you, our hearts are filled today—and every Sept. 11 for that matter—with emotions that run the gamut.

It has been 19 years since the tragic terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, left America in shambles, both literally and figuratively. In the end, nearly 3,000 lives were lost in a series of heinous acts that should never be forgotten. And nearly two decades later, the heartbreak is still there for many who lost loved ones on that fateful day.

We re-live the images and the aftermath of hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, a jet flying into the Pentagon in the greater-Washington, D.C., area and later learning of a group of heroes forcing another hijacked plane to crash in an open field in Shanksville, Pa., sacrificing their lives to save countless others.

A year later, President George W. Bush proclaimed Sept. 11 as the first-ever “Patriot Day,” a time to remember those killed in the attacks, to remember to stand united as a nation, and to join others in prayer vigils or memorial events.

Both President Barack Obama and President Donald J. Trump made certain that Sept. 11 was not forgotten, with Obama proclaiming Sept. 11 as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, and Trump declaring Sept. 8–10 as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance and proclaiming Sept. 11 as Patriot Day.

We thank our leaders for their efforts to bring our country together each year on this day, as one nation under God, brothers and sisters standing united from all walks of life, never forgetting that tragic time.

But this year, we wonder what will happen after our Sept. 11 remembrance, especially given the current political climate that seems to get more divisive by the day.

We are less than two months away from the Nov. 3 presidential election, and the vitriol being hurled by our presidential candidates and their surrogates is already reaching epic proportions.

Sadly, “civility” appears to be a forgotten word as both President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden—and those speaking on their behalf—appear to be leaving civility at the door as they enter any conversation about November.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the civil unrest prevalent in several U.S. cities only adds to the uneasiness that both political parties and society at large currently face.

We can only imagine what the next seven weeks will bring, but one thing we can all do is pray: pray for the candidates running for all offices—on the local, state and national level.

Pray that the Holy Spirit guides each of them and each of us as we vote.

Pray that, no matter what the election results are, we may again become one nation, under God, seeing all who cross our path as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Cheryl B. Sawyer, who in 2001 was a professor of school counseling at the University of Houston, Clear Lake, wrote the following poem, “One,” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It has been published many times since, including on the Indiana 9/11 Memorial in downtown Indianapolis at 421 W. Ohio St.

As we continue to see increasing polarization on so many levels in our society, her words are worth remembering now as we again reflect on 9/11, and worth keeping on our hearts, no matter what happens on Nov. 3 and beyond:

As the soot and dirt and ash rained down,
We became one color.
As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building,
We became one class.
As we lit candles of waiting and hope,
We became one generation.
As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the inferno,
We became one gender.
As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength,
We became one faith.
As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement,
We spoke one language.
As we gave our blood in lines a mile long,
We became one body.
As we mourned together the great loss,
We became one family.
As we cried our tears of grief and loss,
We became one soul.
As we retold with pride of the sacrifice of heroes,
We became one people.
We are
One color
One class
One generation
One gender
One faith
One language
One body
One family
One soul
One people
We are The Power of One.
We are United.
We are America.

To her powerful words, we simply add, Amen. †

—Mike Krokos

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