Each September 11th since 2001 has had its own climate in which we remember the horror of that day, and we all deal with it in our own way, publicly or privately. But on this anniversary, we’re caught in a confluence of events that expose our collective raw nerves.

Amid disputes over a planned Islamic center near Ground Zero and a Florida preacher’s still-uncertain plan to burn copies of the Quran, the nation prepared to honor those who died nine years ago in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Saturday promised to be the most politicized 9/11 anniversary yet, with street protests scheduled in Lower Manhattan.

“Most 9/11 family members believe the day should be reserved for prayer, service and remembrance” of the almost 3,000 who died, David Paine, co-founder of the 9/11 service group MyGoodDeed, said Thursday. “But this year, there’s more conflict than ever.”

The plan to build a Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero provokes many Americans. The threat to publicly burn Korans at a small community church in Florida provokes many Americans and people all over the world.

The Muslim celebration of Eid, formally ending Ramadan’s month of fasting, happens to fall on 9/11 this year. Many celebrations are either called off or are extra low-key.

In the nine years since the terrorist attack, attention to Islam hasn’t been handled well enough. Media have focused more on geopolitically correct, fuzzy feel-good stories focusing on tolerance and diversity and healing.

The hard questions had to come out and they are right now.

Meanwhile, we’re reminded by signs, billboards, bumper stickers and news features to ‘Remember’ what we can never forget. The site of the attacks is politically volatile at this time, so President Obama will take part in a ceremony at the Pentagon, while First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver an address in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, both sites where planes hijacked by terrorists were crashed that day.

Seems wise to suggest that the first and best way to commemorate this day is by lifting a prayer or lighting a candle for the victims of 9/11, and the families who suffer the loss. As Pope Benedict did on his visit to Ground Zero

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.


Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....