Why A Piece Of The World Trade Center?
By Father Andrew Harrison
A reporter asked me, "Why do you want a piece of the former World Trade
Center"? At first I was taken aback. However, after thinking it over, I concluded that the
question was valid. Why would I want a piece of the World Trade Center?
I thought back to November when I attended the annual assembly of the
National Council of Churches in Oakland, California. A letter from world religious leaders
to the people of the United States was delivered to the assembly. The letter stated that
Americans have not fully grieved the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Grief is a natural biological and spiritual process all humans experience
when a loved one dies. The intensity of the grief is related to the level of loss and the
person's ability to cope. Everyone deals with loss in his or her own special way. However,
if the grief is not fully resolved, the new loss will connect with other losses and may
cause both a psychological and a spiritual breakdown.
Grief therapists suggest facing each loss and the feelings associated
with it. Talking about the loss with an empathetic person, visiting the place where the
loss occurred, or going to the departed loved one's gravesite help the grieving person deal
with the loss. (Orthodox Christians that survive the death of a loved one can attend
memorial services that are celebrated on the 8th day, 40th day, and yearly on the
anniversary of the loved one's death. The blessing of the loved one's grave also helps in
the grieving process).
Along with their fellow Americans, the people in Palos Hills, Illinois,
where St. Luke church is located, are at various stages of grief caused by the events of
September 11th. Perhaps, I thought, St. Luke parish could help the people of Palos Hills
resolve any personal grief caused by these events.
The St. Luke church building is the oldest building still standing in
Palos Hills and it is also a historical site. It would be fitting, then, to dedicate our
new bell tower to the people who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
I proposed the idea to our Parish Council, and the members agreed with
the plan. We drafted a letter to the Mayor of New York City requesting something from
Ground Zero to put into a time capsule or a corner stone. To my surprise we were given a
200-pound piece of a World Trade Center steel beam. It is as though God in His wisdom knew
exactly what was necessary to guide our parish to do something helpful for the Palos Hills
community. Thus, on September 11, 2002, St. Luke parish will sponsor a special day of
remembrance, which the people of Palos Hills and other communities can attend.
The first anniversary activities will begin near 9:00 AM. Local police
and firemen will bring the World Trade Center steel-beam piece to the church in procession.
When the beam arrives, the bells in the bell tower will be rung for the first time. Bishop
Job will lead a service of dedication and solemn requiem. The bells will then be rung every
hour on the hour all day long. In addition, visiting dignitaries will be invited to speak
at various times.
At 12:00 noon we will have a service of Psalm reading with the Pledge of
Allegiance. At 7:00 PM a memorial service will be held concluding with patroitic religious
songs sung by our choir. This remembrance will become an annual event for St. Luke and
will help fulfill our responsibility to the Palos Hills community.
The events of September 11th shook our national sense of safety and also
became a wake-up call for us to join together to protect the liberties we in America have
come to expect. The World Trade Center steel-beam piece that will be housed at St. Luke
Orthodox Church in Palos Hills will continue to remind us how precious our freedom is.
"In God We Trust" has been a United States motto for more than 200 years, and not for
nothing. When we trust in God, "we know that in all things God works for good to those who
love him..." (Romans 8:28), including in our grief. That's why I wanted a piece of the
former World Trade Center.