Sunday, September 11, 2016

Today is September 11, 2016...

Today is September 11, 2016, it was 15 years ago today and not too many minutes from now that a series of events unfolded that changed those of us who lived through it and changed the future of all those who came after it.

September 11, 2001, was a day for our generation, much like December 7, 1941 was for a generation before. On September 11, 2001, almost 3000 people died as terrorists attacked New York and Washington. There were also passengers - turned heroes that down a fourth plane in Pennsylvania.

Hero. That word somehow falls short in describing the actions of so many that day. The passengers on that plane, everyday citizens, the firefighters, port authority police, first responders, and bravest of the men and women in blue. On that day the color of our skin color didn’t matter, religion didn’t matter, backgrounds, social status didn’t matter. Politics didn’t matter. Everything that divides us now - didn’t matter then. Only humanity mattered. Together - despite our differences would we survive - or at least have a chance.

Today, as we look back and honor the sacrifices made by all and remember the heros. I want to share a story a different kind of hero that caught my attention and touched my heart - and still does today.

He was called the Fireman’s Friar. His name was Father Mychal Judge. He was most notable first victim of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. One month after Mychal Judge's body was pulled from the shattered lobby of 1 World Trade Center, and three weeks after his televised funeral, some of the friar's friends decided to hold a smaller memorial service - an evening of Celtic music and storytelling. Priests, nuns, lawyers, cops, firefighters, homeless people, rock-and-rollers, recovering alcoholics, local politicians, and middle-aged couples from the suburbs all streamed into the Good Shepherd Chapel on Ninth Avenue. Mychal Judge had a Clintonian talent for making people feel as though they were the only ones in the room and a bartender's gift for bringing strangers together.

Did you catch it? Those things that can divide us, did matter to Father Judge - that day or any day.

The firemen loved him. He had an encyclopedic memory for their family members' names, birthdays, and passions; he frequently gave them whimsical presents. Once, after visiting President Clinton in Washington, he handed out cocktail napkins emblazoned with the presidential seal. He'd managed to stuff dozens of them into his habit before leaving the White House.

Father Mychal Judge didn’t go without having his share of controversy surrounding his life, suffice it to say he didn’t fit the mold when it came to a shepherd of people.

He was killed on that day as tower one collapsed on him but not before connecting with and ministering to as many he could. He was reportedly last seen administering the last rights to someone on the sidewalk.

Reportedly in his pocket was a simple prayer card with these words:

Lord, take me where you want me to go.
Let me meet who you want me to meet.
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way.

Good words from a good man to hide in our heart in preparation for the next day we’ll never forget.

May God bless us today as we remember the good father and other heroes from September 11, 2001.

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