Five Years After 9/11

As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, The Pilot cedes its editorial space to this unsigned editorial that appeared in the Aug. 31 issue of Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York.

No, we will never forget.

Whether we suffered a personal loss or not, the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have touched us all. In this community, in the nation, they are as special to us as they are to those who knew them and loved them.

We have learned, through their sacrifice, to live in what we call the “post-9/11 world.” We’ve gone through stages, collectively and repeatedly, to try to come to grips with this new world ? to find acceptance and move on.

There was a form of denial, at first, when we in New York wanted the World Trade Center site rebuilt immediately. We wanted tall towers and lots of new office space and, while we were at it, a complete revitalization of lower Manhattan. We wanted to put everything back together and wanted it to look and to function just as it did before, only better.

Anger was another stage. We were angry, monumentally so, at the fanatics who caused this unimaginable horror and we wanted to strike back. In our darkest hearts, we wanted to hurt them more than they hurt us. The invasion of Afghanistan in an effort to rout al-Qaida was an expression of that anger; so was the early and broad support for the war in Iraq, even with no clear evidence linking that country to Sept. 11.

We attempted to bargain our way back to a safer world. We put up with new restrictions on travel and time-consuming checkpoints at airports in exchange, we hoped, for weeding out trouble. We lined up to show photo identification in building lobbies, hospitals and schools and went along, for a while, with questionable governmental practices involving the detention of suspects and domestic surveillance.

The entire situation left us, as a society, saddened and depressed. How could it be otherwise? As individuals, we suffered as well. Clinical depression related to Sept. 11 soared. A recent mental-health study found that 16.1 percent of the cleanup workers at ground zero suffered from major depression and another 13.5 percent of workers showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Other surveys found high levels of depression and stress disorder among firefighters, public school students and the flect that reality.

But just as we now know through sad experience that evil does indeed exist in this world, we should not forget that joy, too, has always been a part of the human condition ? even though it sometimes seems elusive.

As Catholics, we believe in joy; in the joy that comes from following Christ on this earth and in the eternal joy that we, as those killed on Sept. 11, can find in his embrace after death.

So, no, we won’t forget the terrible events of that terrible day. But we can, if we place ourselves in God’s hands, move on with peaceful hearts.