The Day After 9/11 – A Pilgrims Perspective

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September 12, 2012 by eneubauer

We will never forget!


On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11/2001 our country sought to prayerfully remember that horrific day our world changed as more than 2977 Americans from different backgrounds met an untimely end due to the attacks of radical Muslim terrorists who believed they were on a mission ordained by God. On that day America was forever changed, our national psyche was permanently injured, and we were at a loss for exactly how to recover from this tragedy.

America’s response was two-fold. In the immediate aftermath we sought to pray (vigils literally across the nation), donate (time, talent, treasure, blood & life itself), comfort those who lost loved ones, attended many funerals, and came back to church by the thousands – just trying to grieve and make sense of it all.

Secondly, we attacked.  The CIA launched paramilitary operations within the boarders of Afghanistan parachuting in from airplanes, suitcases filled with cash to build (or buy) alliances with tribal leaders and the Northern Alliance.  Then we sent the full force of our military in to dismantle this terrorist safe-haven by striking at Kabul’s central government and military compounds.  The military then drove Osama bin Laden into the Tora Bora region and began to engage in (what is now) the longest war in American history.  Finally, we got mired down in a war inside Iraq – and the rest is history.

The good news for our country is that we have not experienced a successful mass casualty terrorist attack since 9/11/2001 – at this fact America takes a sigh of relief.  Second, President Obama, our National Security apparatus and the brave men & women of the Navy brought an end to the reign of Osama bin Laden by killing him in his compound inside Pakistan.  We have been able, thus far, to bring the major component of war to an end in Iraq and are currently drawing down in Afghanistan – although the end to that war still seems very nebulous.

The challenge still remains.  The threat of terrorism and terrorist type activities is now the “new normal” thus forcing the American military to shift strategies enabling itself to fight an asymmetrical battle.  President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, has stated that current threats are not from strong states (China / Russia) but from soft or weak states that do not have the ability to evict terrorist bases, recruiting stations and training camps from their boarders.  This is one reason (of many) why President Obama has launched a relentless “drone war” inside the boarders of African nations where Al-Qaeda (& others) currently have a stronghold.  The reality of this challenge is being played out now in Egypt and Lybia where forces sympathetic to Al-Qaeda’s vision of Islam have attacked our embassies – killing our Lybian ambassador and three of his staff members.


As a Catholic on the pilgrim’s path towards Christ the solution(s) for our current problems have been conflicting and often short sided.  While I agree that our governments responsibility is to protect the National Interest (& defend the lives of innocent Americans) we seem to be entangled in military conflicts in multiple countries with no end in sight.  In this context we also realize that the threat of terrorism is still HIGH and very real – regardless of how much might and money we throw at the problem.  I conclude, as a student of current events, that while some of our government’s solutions have worked (Osama bin Laden is dead) others have not worked as well and we’re currently at a loss for exactly how to solve the global challenge of terrorism.  Maybe the reality of this conflict will remain with us for our lifetime.  Considering this reality is a bit disillusioning.

As a Catholic I am charged with considering solutions that go beyond the realm of the physical plain.  The one I offer today is tied to the phenomena we experienced shortly after the original attacks on our country on 9/11.  Not only did our country unite and sacrifice but we, many in our own way & in our own understanding of God, returned to Church (& other places of worship).  It was a time of severe tragedy and national unity – a time when we turned our eyes heavenward and began asking the most important questions.  The events of 9/11 were a tragedy, our national neglect of those suffering the effects of 9/11 is frustrating, but what 9/11 produced (through tragedy) was an awakening of a spiritual nature that we haven’t seen in decades.

My personal reflection throughout yesterday while watching the horrific events unfold in Egypt and Lybia brought me to my knees once again.  It was on my knees and in the silence of my heavy heart that an epiphany of sorts came to me.  The long-term solution to our problem isn’t to be found solely in an excess of military power & the purchasing of alliances in foreign lands but a return to the very thing that united US in the immediate aftermath of that horrific day.  A return to God, a recognition that certain problems are only solved with eternal solutions, and that transformation (@ a global level) begins in the heart of the individual.  Transform us O’ Lord.

My Prayer:

I pray a new willingness in the heart of man to return to God.  As we return and surrender our hearts & lives to you, I pray for radical transformation accompanied by a reorientation of our lives – back to you.  The words in Sacred Scripture ring true this day, “As we lift up the name of Jesus you will draw all men (& women) to you.”

Today we lift up the name of Jesus in word & deed in the eternal hope of Christ’s peace.  Bring salvation & peace to a world in conflict and enable us to see one another in the way in which you see your creation.

Grace & Peace

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