It seems like ancient history. Was it just four years or 40 years ago that the Twin Towers fell? So much has happened since Sept. 11 that pushes that terrible day into the background " the invasion of Afghanistan, the war in Iraq and now the terrible catastrophe that is the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The days before 9-11 seem almost idyllic in comparison now. We seem to suffer from a collective short-term memory in this country, so on this fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks I want to remember.
I use the word re-member in the sense of going back, rejoining myself to other members of the body of humanity whose lives were changed forever on that day.
On my desk sit two fragments from the World Trade Center that were given to me when a team from my church briefly ministered to the recovery workers at Ground Zero. One is a piece of marble flooring; the other a fragment of a window. I want to remember the people who walked on this floor or looked out this window.
In my mind's eye I see people walking on this floor to catch an elevator, clutching a briefcase, waving to fellow office workers. I see people looking out this window, taking a moment to marvel at the beauty of that September morning, before plunging into the demands of the day that would end with the Towers plunging down upon them.
I want to remember that those people are no more. Along with those who were killed at the Pentagon and Flight 93, I want to remember those people and their lives, their hopes, their dreams which were cut short.
There is something else I want to remember - the heroism of the recovery workers. Our team and I went to Ground Zero some nine months after the attacks. The work there no longer merited front-page news coverage, and many assumed the work had been completed.
It hadn't. For those who worked in the Pit, it was still Sept. 11. Those men and women who had first responded to the crises were still there, recovering victims with the same courage, dignity and tenderness as they had from Day One. They would come into St. Paul's Chapel, just in front of Ground Zero, for comfort and comfort food before going out into the Pit again. And they did that again and again for 260 days.
Today in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama fellow Americans have had their lives destroyed, not by terrorists but by a force of nature. There is no one day like Sept. 11 to remember them, just a name - Katrina.
We have seen the face of evil not just in the storm, but in individuals whose actions have horrified the civilized world.
How can we ever recover from that? In the movie The Lord of the Rings, the little hobbit Sam gives the answer: "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, a shadow. Even darkness must pass, a new day will come and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stay with you, that meant something... I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances to turn back, only they didn't. They kept going, because they were holding on to something: That there's some good left in this world and it's worth fighting for."
I believe that there is still much good in the world, and there are stories of heroism we've not yet been told from Katrina. On the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, perhaps another person will be writing this column and remembering 9-11. I hope that author will remember not just the horror stories but the stories of heroism in the wake of Katrina.
Those are stories and people that I'll want to remember. As a Christian, I remember that God has the final word, which is always resurrection, bringing new life out of death. Remember that.
(The Rev. Cynthia Taylor is pastor of the Church of the Holy Comforter, which meets at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.)
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