Remembering 9/11

Tom Hannigan

One of my favorite things to do is to spend time with engaged couples as they prepare for marriage. I know, I know, I’m not a married man so what the heck do I know about marriage? Little, I assure you, but I do know a thing or two about human relationships.  And having performed hundreds of weddings over the past 22 years, I have a few things to contribute to the conversation by way of options for couples seeking a ceremony which respects tradition as well as celebrates the couple themselves.

During our first discussion I always ask how the couple met each other, and since I am a hopeless romantic, I always ask how the engagement went down – who asked who? I knew we had reached a certain time in our nation’s history when more couples were sharing with me the role that 9/11 played in how they met.  Many of them had met in college, and experienced 9/11 together.  Living through that experience they realized how special this other person was in their lives, and that they should be together forever. Had this happened once or twice I would have chalked it up to an unusual coincidence.  But, this pattern presented itself countless times during a three to four year period of time, not long after the couples graduated from college and began to set their sights on building their future and starting a family.  September 11, 2001 had a profound impact on their young lives, and dare I say all of our lives.

I remember where I was when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center … and then the second plane hit the south tower. Then a third plane flew into the western side of the Pentagon, and another plane went down in the field in Somerset, Pennsylvania, its passengers having over-taken the hijackers, thwarting another plane from being turned into a deadly weapon. I’m pretty sure if you are of a certain age you also remember where you were that day. I was asked to be the celebrant at the funerals for two men who died in the Pentagon attack – an honor I will never forget.

Eleven years after the attack I think it is still appropriate and necessary to ask ourselves what an appropriate response might be? How do we live our lives in light of all that has happened around the world?

I hope our response is one of peace and justice. There’s a familiar bumper sticker which reads,

Know Peace = know Justice. No peace = no justice.

There cannot be peace without justice and vice versa. May we all spend our lives working toward peace in our hearts, in our homes, in our places of worship, in our community, in our nation, in our world. May global peace begin here at home. May whatever differences we have with another be worked out in such a way that peace is the result. Not just the absence of war, but true and authentic peace.

It begins with each of us. Please pray for me and know I’ll be praying for you as well.




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