The World of Grandpa Don

First Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks
Evening Prayer: Homily


  An entire year has passed, and it is still difficult to get the images out of our collective head.  

A plane slamming into the North Tower.
Then, a second plane almost slicing completely through the South Tower.
The third plane crashing into the Pentagon.
The fourth plane cutting an enormous furrow into the ground near Shanksville.

In the twin towers, and aboard flights 11 and 175, 2,801 workers, visitors, firefighters, police, crew and passengers died.

At the Pentagon and on board flight 77, 184 staffers, military personnel, crew and passengers died.

On board flight 93, 40 crew and passengers died.

On that terrible day 3,025 people died because some fanatics thought America needed to be taught a lesson.


 The lesson learned is that evil does exist in the world and sometimes its face takes the form of so-called religious observance.

Recall that the training manual found among the possessions of one of the terrorists promises the reward of heaven for what he was about to do.

Imagine his surprise!

The lesson learned is that life is a gift from God that cannot be taken for granted and that it must be celebrated, respected, revered and nurtured each day. 

Recall those who were trapped in the World Trade Center and those caught onboard flights 77 and 93, who used their cell phones to call family and friends— calmly and nobly conveying their love and their farewells.

The lesson learned is that so many of us are willing to rise with courage when confronted by adversity.

Recall those who did not race down the stairs inside the twin towers but laboriously helped those who were handicapped to safety.

Or recall those on flight 93 who fought back and prevented the destruction of the White House.

Or recall the 343 New York City firefighters who gave their lives trying to save others.

The lesson learned is that the citizens of this country are basically large-hearted and compassionate.

Recall the millions of people who immediately donated funds to assist the families of firefighters and police who died that day.

Or recall our military personnel who right now in Afghanistan are setting up hospitals and schools to heal and teach a broken nation.

 The lesson learned is that we are resilient.

Recall Mayor Rudolph Guliani, his thoughtful presence, his rallying of New York City and how he symbolized countless individual efforts at both rescue and recovery day after numbing day.

The lesson learned is that solidarity and community go to the heart of what it means to be human.

Recall those who escaped the flames by jumping, they braved the horror of the fall by doing it hand-in-hand with another human being.

The lesson learned is that we are immersed into a mystery bigger than ourselves.

Recall the many thousands that night and over that first weekend who sought solace and comfort  by praying in a church, synagogue or mosque.

The lesson learned is that we cannot do anything without help from heaven.

Recall the steelworkers at ground zero who found those crossed I-beams and stood them up for all to see—
a sign of hope and life in a place of despair and death.


 No doubt, the terrorists did not intend that we should learn these particular lessons from that terrible day. But we did and we have. 


We will continue to reflect on the awful events of September 11 and plumb their depths for meaning. We will continue to hold in prayer the victims who died in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

In addition to our reflection and our prayer, we will honor all 3,025 as we try to live upright lives — serving the needs of the poor and helpless, pursuing justice, working for peace, and hemming in and rooting out evil people so that they can never do those we love — or anyone else — any more harm.

Rev. Steven Lanza, Pastor
St. Julie Billiart Church
Tinley Park, Illinois

September 11, 2001

A Memorial

This event in the history of the world is so momentous and important that it needs a special page on this web site. Some of what is found here  is shared from other sources and some is the result of my thoughts inspired by the events and their aftermath.

First Anniversary
of the Terrorist Attacks

The World of Grandpa Don 

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