The 9/11 tragedy lives on
September 11, 2019
I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?” … Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. —Psalm 42:9, 11
Eighteen years ago, our nation was stunned by attacks that took place against thousands of innocent souls. People of various economic classes, educational attainment, races, genders, countries of origin, religions and nearly any other distinction we can identify were senselessly wounded and killed. Millions are still affected by the aftermath of what we now call 9/11.
One of those whose life was changed did not suffer personal loss but continues to share in loss to this day. On 9/11, she provided ministry to the people the Lord called her to in their hour of need. She is a Presbyterian minister who also serves as an Army Reserve chaplain. At her workplace on 9/11, while supervising the chaplain department in a behavioral health hospital, the chaplain heard her phone ring. When she answered, she heard her commanding officer tell her to sit down.
The chaplain learned that her assignment was to visit two children at their elementary school. Their father had died a few months earlier and now their mother had perished in one of the Twin Towers. The chaplain quickly changed into her uniform, went to the school and had the children brought to her. In her dress blues, the chaplain sat on the floor and told this young brother and sister the tragic news. The young girl said, “It can’t be — who will take care of us?” The chaplain continued to offer comfort and then moved on when others arrived to provide care.
The chaplain’s next stop was a suburban home. There, a woman saw the chaplain approaching and came out on the porch. The woman called out to the chaplain, “Tell me, tell me, which of my children has died?” The chaplain asked the woman if she could come and sit with her on the porch. They sat down together, and the chaplain informed her, “Ma’am, all three of your children died today.” The chaplain stayed with her until the woman’s husband and father arrived home.
These are only two stories out of tens of thousands. Today, our chaplain will call those two children, now grown, and assure them that she still cares and that their mother and father are not forgotten. Hundreds if not thousands of other chaplains will be doing the same — a reassurance to many that our God has not forgotten and that they are still loved, even in the midst of the tragedy that lives on.
Psalm 43:5 tells us: Hope in God, for we shall again praise him, our help and our God.
As we remember the suffering of this day, the loss experienced by innocents and the ongoing struggles that continue to threaten so many, let us pray to the Lord of peace for mercy, grace, reconciliation and forgiveness. And let us also lift our chaplains and others called to ministry as they bring comfort, healing and assurance to those in need.
Lyman M. Smith, Captain, CHC, USN, Retired; Director, Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies
Today’s Focus: 9/11 Tragedy
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Father Mychal Judge, a Roman Catholic priest and New York Fire Department chaplain, was the first known casualty of the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11. Judge handed cards to those in need. On the cards was our prayer for today:
Lord, take me where you want me to go.
Let me meet who you want me to meet.
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way.