Where is Ground Zero?

Today is the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and perhaps, the White House. I celebrated by giving the eulogy at the funeral of a World War II veteran; burial was in the Camp Nelson National Cemetery, not forty feet from where we buried my mother in February. It was a beautiful day high above the Kentucky River.

In New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania others held vigils, memorials, and dedications: as it should be, I think. The United States suffered a mighty blow seven years ago today. It is right and proper that we pause and remember.

Too bad we did not pause longer after the attack seven years ago; instead we rushed to judgment and then to war. Of all the bad things that erupted on the human race that fateful day the worst by far was the resolve on the part of some, no, many, to go to war.

Our national psyche was crushed that day and it is our instinct—mostly animal rather than human—to strike back, or at least to strike out. We looked around for an easy victim to bear the brunt of our anger.

And strike we did: sending armies into the Middle East. We sent Christian armies into the Muslim Middle East; that is the way history will remember it. The President called it a crusade; millions of Muslims did before he made that awful gaffe.

The old crusades—a millennium ago—had a public rhetoric, all about Jesus and Jerusalem, infidels and inspiration, even a bit about the end of the world. But there was also talk of trade and markets and money to be made.

Just like today with our talk of democracy stretching a thin skin of nobility on our uncontrollable lust for oil.

The terrorist attack on the citadels of the Empire was not about God—“God is Great,” they announced as they pointed the planes into the high rise windows—and our attack on the sands of Mesopotamia was not about democracy—“Operation Enduring Freedom,” they wrote as they plotted the downfall of a petty tyrant.

\Thousands have been killed; hundreds of thousands maimed and busted for life; millions displaced; cities destroyed, museums looted, and roads abolished—to say nothing of the trillion-dollar debt that we posted to the account of our nation, making it more difficult to attend to the general welfare.

In a way, the terrorist succeeded: pushing us off course, flushing out our baser moods, and taunting us toward ugly actions that can neither atone for our vices nor attest to our virtues.

It has been seven years of sin, sorrow, and suffering. To remember it all is deep sadness.



1 comment so far

  1. Pastor M on

    Very well said. Even the “commemoration” yesterday had notes of that present. We certainly experienced an awful blow that day, but, not to minimize our pain at all, other nations have had to deal with much more death and carnage–even some administered by us. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

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