The following was considered one of the most memorable quotes of 9/11, from former mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani.
The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit, instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law, and the respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.1
Each year since that time, we take away something different from what transpired. Some remember the crash and immediate crumbling of the World Trade Center. Others remember the screaming in sheer terror, trying to find shelter from the chaos. Most of us, remember most especially those lives that were lost on that day. Though it has been thirteen years since all that has transpired, what our eyes have seen and ears have heard engraved those memories into our hearts forever. Something in particular stands out from what Giuliani said: "The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit, instead we have emerged stronger and more unified.”
Though the attack sparked by al-Qaeda broke the American spirit momentarily, we clung together and 9/11 was a day of conversion for everyone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes on conversion and society:
Human society must be primarily considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievement of others.
These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope that to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed,(#1886).
From the external point, we can say that our country has grown in its awareness: the heightened security, training personnel, government spending on homeland security. But how has the nation grown spiritually? The Catechism draws from St. John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris, stressing that part of our conversion resides in the spiritual dimension within society. This spiritual dimension of 9/11 can be understood through a doctrinal lens, the Mystical Body of Christ.
But a body calls also for a multiplicity of members, which are linked together in such a way as to help one another. And as in the body when one member suffers, all the other members share its pain, and the healthy members come to the assistance of the ailing, so in the Church the individual members do not live for themselves alone, but also help their fellows, and all work in mutual collaboration for the common comfort and for the more perfect building up of the whole Body, (Mystici Corporis Christi, 15).
Here, Venerable Pope Pius XII explains that the Church that Christ instituted and gave to humanity intimately links us to him and with one another. When one suffers, everyone suffers. Is it no surprise then that people find themselves mourning together at a candlelight vigil after these tragedies? Remember the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut?
On this day of recollection, we thank those who have gone before us, giving their life to ensure the peace and security of our country. We pray for those families who have lost loved ones. Furthermore, we pray for all firefighters, police officers, and those serving in the armed forces. May we treasure the dignity and value of human life, as something ultimately a gift of God which brings the Church together evermore when offered for the sake of others.
Something that we can reflect on today: part of our conversion in these tough moments is that we belong to one another. Whatever I have experienced or am experiencing, someone else in the world is experiencing to a similar or varying degree. Let us not get into the discussion on the problem of evil, but let us realize that perhaps amidst mourning and loss, God is able to unite us with one another, ultimately to him.