Below is the text of my remarks at today’s ceremony of commemoration for 9/11/01:
Ohio Northern University
English Chapel Prayer Garden
Let us pray: Almighty God, our Mighty Fortress and our Rock, as we gather together to honor the memory of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, may our hearts be filled with the comfort of your grace, that we might honor without becoming overwhelmed with grief, pay tribute without becoming nationalistic, and remember without reviling people who are different from us. Grant us all peace, that we might be makers of peace in this world, on this, and every day. Amen.
Whatever you call that day, it was a day of tragedy, truly a “day of infamy” in our nation’s history.
Each of us who were alive on that day remembers exactly where we were—standing in a classroom giving a lecture, or seated in one of the seats listening to one; in a meeting; just waking up after a long night; having breakfast with the morning news on the television.
For many of us, those moments of terror and shear horror and fear for our lives and the safety of our nation are as fresh today as they were the day after it all happened.
Some have found it difficult to move on, during the eleven years of war that have followed that day.
Some have tried to forget—to put it all aside—to go about life almost as if it had never happened.
But today, we stand somewhere in the middle—the events of that day seemingly so close, and yet sometimes feeling like they might have happened a hundred years ago, or in a different place.
And that is why we gather here—why so many others are gathering in many other places around our nation and across the boundaries of many nations—so that we might never forget. All too soon, that bright September morning in 2001 will seem like a dim memory in our collective consciousness. And gatherings like this may become fewer and farther between. But that is why we gather here, so that we might never forget—
The tragedy, yes, but also the heroism, the courage, the human spirit that emerged on that day.
And, so we may never forget the obligation we have as people of faith and goodwill, to come together to be the rememberers, the re-memberers of society, the ones who bring us together at times like this to become a part of each others’ stories and lives.
So as we pause for this brief commemoration today, be encouraged that you are part of the movement of peace and harmony that has swept the world in response to the acts of September 11, 2001. And always remember that you are part of God’s sweeping movement of justice and peace in all times of tragedy, large and small scale, and that you are always called to do the most loving thing no matter where you are.
The psalmist wrote, “I will bless the Lord at all times.” As we reflect on the significance of this day, may we be encouraged always as we learn to bless the Lord in all circumstances, and may God grant peace to all who seek God’s holy presence. Thanks be to God. Amen.