The past experience of the consequences of terrorism in the United States, when hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, has affected all Americans. It was the worst day in the history of our country. So many innocent people perished — the result of such unfathomable wickedness — and for these victims and their families all Americans continue to pray. We pray for protection of our nation, for wisdom for our leaders, and for the suffering victims of terrorism in our country and throughout the world.

This photo, of a child presenting an American flag to Pope Pius XII after World War II, is a reminder of past terrorism and a symbol of the present demonstration of respect and love for the red, white and blue by the American people.

I am reminded of the year 1943, when millions of Jews and other Europeans suffered the horrors of the Holocaust. The Eternal City was bombed during a two-hour attack. The Holy Father hurried from the Vatican to the streets of Rome. He stood in the midst of the terrorized people, as buildings collapsed in piles of smoldering rubble and bombs exploded on all sides. The Romans ran toward him for guidance and strength. With hands and cassock smeared with the blood of the dead and the wounded, he blessed them. Then, Pope Pius XII consoled his flock and took care of the immediate needs of the victims. He was acclaimed “Defensor Civitatis.”

Today, Americans look toward their leaders for inspiration as they help sustain the victims of terrorism and continue to carry the American flag with love and pride in the United States of America.

MARGHERITA MARCHIONE

Morristown, New Jersey

The writer is a sister of the congregation Religious Teachers Filippini and the author of Pope Pius XII: Architect for Peace (Paulist Press, 2000).