As I look back at the day we remember ten years ago, a day that has changed the world. I was in Charlottesville, Virginia and working to support adults with intellectual disabilities at a day program. We were all watching the Today Show and having our morning coffee together as a regular morning ritual. In the moments of terror projected on the screen, all the staff and the people with intellectual disabilities were struck with sadness and anger of the events that unfolded that fateful day. I think we all knew that life in America would change profoundly for us all.
I want to look back at this weekend’s solemn ceremonies to remember a few things that we all took to heart in 9/11: Family, Faith, and Patriotism.
My parents happened to be visiting my home that day where they live in the Washington, D.C. area. They were very concerned about what had happened and especially in Washington D.C., and how life might change. They were on a road trip to visit with relatives in Chicago, and debated if they should continue their trip. They ultimately decided to forge ahead with their journey, and they were very moved by the great showing of patriotism by Americans as they drove the many miles from Virginia to Illinois to see thousands of American Flags and signs of support for our military, firemen, and police.
My brother Mike, was at Washington National Airport, and about to board an airplane for Chicago, when he saw the flames and smoke from the Pentagon, and a man ran out of the control tower yelling for everyone to evacuate the airport. America would later learn that it was speculated that the plane he was boarding may have been planned to have terrorist on board targeting the Sears Tower (Thank God that did not happen). Mike is a musician with the band, Eddie From Ohio, who later put out a 9/11 Tribute CD, that raised thousands of dollars for the Pentagon Memorial and victims families. They had also composed a song called “Oh My Brother,” which they sang in a club near Ground Zero filled with Firemen that became a favorite of the crowd and brought everyone to complete silence and reverence.
My brother, Dr. Joseph Clem, is a psychiatrist with the US Navy, and he was immediately called into service for the troops. He ended up serving two tours in Iraq and one in Kuwait in the past ten years to assist with the mental wounds of war. I am very proud of his service to our country and he was recently recognized for his great service and promoted to the rank of Captain at Portsmouth Hospital in Virginia. Joe not only serves the troops in the military, but also is the only child psychiatrist in the Tidewater Region to help military children and families.
After the events of 9/11 this country experienced a great revival of faith through prayer and increased attendance to churches, synagogs, temples, and mosques. However, this was short lived and it is sad that 10 years later religious prayer services are not being honored by all faiths in the big events in D.C. or New York. I will continue to pray the we as a nation keep God and faith in our prayers to remain strong in to help us through the difficult times ahead. I have a few links below regarding faith and 9/11: My cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, has written a blog for the Archdiocese of Washington and wrote about the sad developments of our remembrances of 9/11 without faith and prayer:
The USCCB has put together a great website of videos, essay, and resources to commemorate and remember 9/11 with devout faith:
Father Robert Barron has an excellent video dealing with this issue of Anger & Forgiveness about 9/11:
I was very moved by all the patriotism that was in America for the first six months after the events of 9/11. I am also sad that the level of enthusiasm for patriotism has not stayed at a high level, since we still have many troops overseas and we are investing so much of our resources to the military and homeland security. It is sad that America did not support the countries efforts like we did in WWII through shared sacrifices and patriotic fervor. It is also sad that we seem to have lost many freedoms that our Founding Fathers probably would not support. A fellow Virginian recently jested that the recent earthquake in Virginia was due to Thomas Jefferson rolling over in his grave. I hope and pray that we as a nation find faith and patriotism to help us through the days ahead.
Following is a local article from “The Hook” about the loss of freedoms since 9/11:
There is a wonderful App that has recently come out for the Apple iPad that has many resources and videos that tell the history and commemorate those who lost their lives: