We gather this morning in memory of a day that changed our world. A day of darkness and fear, a day of loss and grief.
We remember our sense of vulnerability and the feeling of a world turned upside down. We remember the war that began then, and has continued for a generation. We remember service members who have deployed again and again and again and again.
We remember 6959 men and women who have died in combat.
We remember those who died at their own hand after they returned, suffering from guilt, shame, depression, a loss of meaning and purpose, a sense of being alone.
We remember all those families and friends left behind.
But reflecting back we also remember your light that was able to pierce our darkness, as we reflected on your promises, and as we saw your love in the sacrifice of first responders and the kindness of strangers.
We remember the buddies who have stood by us in the desert and in the darkness after. We remember the welcoming arms of loved ones that embraced us when we returned.
May that light continue to shine and shatter the darkness whenever it threatens to envelop us. May we as a nation remember what makes us strong–our commitment to freedom, to justice, and to equality for all.
May we remember our ancestors who came here in hope, invited by a torch held high in New York harbor, calling them to a land where with the promise that race, religion, color and culture were not to be dividers.
May our nation continue to lift that light of hope to all the world.
And may we, reflecting on that day seventeen years ago, and the years since, commit ourselves to reflecting that light to all around us.
In words attributed to a combat veteran from eight hundred years ago, we pray —
Lord make us instruments of your peace
Where there is hatred let us sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that we may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life