Local News Archive
Print Issue: September 19, 2002
The Day 'We Were Thrust On The Cross Of Terrorism'
FAIRBURN - Far from ground zero, far from the Pentagon and the fields of Shanksville, Pa., the tragedy of last year's Sept. 11 attacks were remembered with quiet emotion, patriotism and prayer at Our Lady of Mercy High School.
Gathered in the school auditorium for a morning Mass of remembrance, students were joined by members of the community, as well as several representatives from the armed forces, EMTs, and a nurse. Father Paul Burke's homily to his students called the terrorists' actions of that day, "the nails of our crucifixion, the nails that thrust us upon the cross of terrorism." The Mass was concelebrated by Father Burke and Father Brian Higgins, vocations director for the archdiocese.
"We were hammered to the cross, just as Jesus was, nail by nail . . . Those jets, in the hands of brutal men, were the nails of our crucifixion, the nails that thrust us upon the cross of terrorism. Twelve months later, we seem to be still hanging on that cross. We apprehensively wait for something else to happen."
Father Burke likened the day to the darkness of Good Friday as Jesus hung on the cross, but he also drew similarities of redemption and hope of that day. "Good Friday is also a story of tenderness and love - the love of a Mother for her son and love of friends for one another. Since Sept. 11, there have been hundreds and thousands of people like Mary, John and Mary Magdalene who remained with Jesus to comfort him, to console him, to pray with him. We cannot forget the great outpouring of love of so many people in response to what besieged our nation. The sufferings of the few became the sufferings of all - people who showed love and compassion, people who lived out the message of the Beatitudes in their own lives. People who cared for the injured and looked for the missing . . . people who prayed for the dead and comforted those hurting in body, mind and spirit."
After the homily, a special PowerPoint presentation created by the students of Erich Chatham's media classes showed photos and images of that day a year ago, interspersed with music and patriotic images. The students sat in silence watching photos of the World Trade towers crumbling, firemen bent over in sorrow, and people fleeing Manhattan covered in the ash and debris of that day. Strains of the hymn "Amazing Grace" accompanied some of the images.
After Mass, a special commemorative painting for 9-11 by OLM instructor Luciano Lazzarino was unveiled, and three wreaths were laid by service men and women in memory of those who died in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Afterward, students reflected on that day last year, with both optimism and uncertainty. Although much has returned to as it was before the attacks, "I feel like we've gotten closer as a country," said senior Tarell Shelton, who was in his second-period English class last year when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and thought the second plane hitting was "a replay" of the first event.
Constant television coverage of post 9-11 keeps the event fresh in the mind of Meghan Kotowoski who wonders about the future. "It's always on the news, and I wonder what's going to be next," she said.
Many of the students have mothers or fathers who work as emergency medical personnel, or members of the military, as well as pilots, and are regular visitors during the school year. History teacher Capt. Ken Crim, who wore his dress whites for the Mass of remembrance, is a reservist with the Navy, and awaits his orders overseas. He reflected that there is a difference between the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and that of the terrorist targets of 9-11-2001.
"This is unique because it was an attack on civilian noncombatants . . . Pearl Harbor was a military target." He continued, "All the terrorist attacks in Israel added up don't equal what happened in the U.S. . . it showed the world if this could happen in the U.S., it can happen anywhere."