John Burger came to the Register in 2001 as a staff writer after working as a reporter for Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., and a master’s degree in English from Iowa State University and has taught in China and France.
As members of an earlier generation could tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news of JFK’s assassination or the attack on Pearl Harbor, hardly anyone alive today can forget Sept. 11, 2001.
It’s been 10 years, and the Register is preparing special coverage of the anniversary.
But we’d also like to hear from you, our readers. We’d like to hear your recollections of that day or your thoughts about it and the ensuing reaction to the largest attack on American soil. This is your chance to offer your unique perspective, based on your experiences, to the rest of us. We invite you to write considered and respectful short essays, in the comment box below, to help all of us put this history in perspective and learn from it.
Here are some possibilities for you to consider:
Were you at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon that day? What happened to you? What did you witness, and how has it impacted your life?
How did you react? Did your faith help you get through? Did the events impact your spiritual life?
Did you know someone who was killed that day? Tell us about him or her and what effect that death has had on you.
What are your thoughts about how America has changed since 9/11? Are we a better people, or has the experience had no lasting effect on what seemed to be a kind of spiritual revival in the months after the attacks?
If you are from an older generation, how do your experiences and observations of 9/11 and its aftermath compare to earlier challenges in our history — the Depression, World War II, other wars, assassinations, civil unrest, natural and manmade disasters?
And what about our response to terrorism? Are we taking the right approach? Is America’s newfound emphasis on national security overblown? Have we gone too far in giving up our privacy, our personal freedoms?
In the wake of 9/11, Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to pray the Rosary. Did you respond? A decade later, have you kept it up? What has this done for you?
We thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts with us. May we also invite you, our readers, to join us at the Register in prayer on Sept. 11, 2011: for the souls of those who perished on 9/11, for bystanders who were traumatized, for emergency responders whose health has been affected, for loved ones who are still suffering, and for those in the military who have sacrificed their livelihoods — and their lives — to keep us free. And for the future of our country.
As we look to the 10th anniversary of this tragic event, let us recall the words Blessed John Paul II offered the day after, at his weekly audience of Sept. 12, 2001:
Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.