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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.

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