"Big Four" Highlights


Remember and Resolve

Let us never forget the events of 9/11

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

Time heals but memory persists. We cannot forget the searing images of the Twin Towers ablaze, puffing like uneven smokestacks, with fire so high up and out of reach of even the city’s best and bravest. Suddenly these two sleek, solid columns, for long the anchor of the most famous skyline, looked shaken and uncertain, fragile and alone, with no one to help from below. Those who were trapped tragically were left, not without hope, to look above as they met the flames or leapt.

We cannot forget what we resolved that day: to help, to heal, to comfort, to protect, to meet evil with a steadfast love that is best expressed in action. New York came together that day and for months thereafter like a great city should, and the world joined in mourning and support, with everyone seeming to think the same thing: We remember. We resolve. We’ll recover.

The "Tribute of Light," on the eve of the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., marks the place where the Twin Towers stood.

Where are we today, on 9/11, fourteen years later? Maybe my story will help us on this day.

I grew up in the shadows of the Towers as they were completed in the early 1970s, in an apartment a few blocks away with my parents and two brothers. I later lived in another apartment nearby with my wife, who worked for a while, on the upper floors of the north Tower, for the company that lost the most employees on 9/11. On the day when the terrorists struck, I had passed the Towers early in the morning on my way to work, and saw them standing for the last time, glistening in the dawn light against an awakening clear, blue sky. When the first plane rained terror from the sky, striking the north Tower, I was at my desk at work in New Haven, and called my wife. The impact of the plane had shaken downtown, she said, and our baby was awake. I was on the phone with her when the second plane struck and I heard the resounding boom come through the line. It dawned on everyone immediately that this was no accident. “Come home,” my wife said. “We’re under attack!”

I made my way back to a shaken, sealed-off city, taking train, bus, subway, anything that would move me closer to home. A sympathetic cop let me through the barricades and I walked the final mile through deserted streets caked ankle-deep with white soot and debris from the fallen Towers. My wife and child were with my parents, huddled in the apartment, watching a TV that soon went dead with the electricity. We knew we were on the front lines of a war brought to our shores. Unready and unsure, we stepped up to serve one another and our neighbors in need.

It would be that way for many days as the white soot cleared from the air and the smell of the smoldering Towers gave new meaning to the word acrid. My mom went each morning to the corner water tanks to fill the jugs for our family, like an ancient woman at the well. Yet we survived and became stronger, knowing that as a family, a city and a nation, we were together.

Let us thank God for all the difficult graces of those days, as we mourn those who were lost, and pray for those who remain to remember and resolve.