Tuesday, 22 September 2015

New York

This week Pope Francis is visiting Cuba and the United States. On Friday, he will be in New York visiting the 9/11 Memorial Site.

For me, this memorial is simple and beautiful - water features set into the old foundations of the Twin Towers with the names of those who perished carved into the surrounding stone.

We visited on a hot July day and saw many workers relaxing in the memorial gardens, enjoying their lunch, talking animatedly or sitting quietly and reflecting in the shaded spaces around this area. I am sure that Pope Francis will be moved and inspired by this new American cathedral dedicated to ordinary people.

Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum I read about the lives of some of those who died on that dreadful day. One story really affected me and forced me to question the way I live. Patricia Fagan was identified as one of the dead by her sister, who recognised Patricia's handbag. On that fateful day Patricia carried, in her bag, her make-up; a Novena to St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes; a prayer card for a friend and a purse containing lots of small change. "She always kept coins in her purse," her sister commented, "to give to those in need. She gave assistance to poor people every day." Patricia Fagan made me think of my own trips into town and the times I have passed those looking for a few pence for a cup of tea. Like Patricia, I now carry a purse with small change.

Almost all casualties of war are good people, like Patricia Fagan. They walk to work through crowded streets, noticing those who have been left behind. They sit at desks, working on mundane tasks, looking forward to their lunchtime repast and then some reapply their lipstick before returning to  their desk for a long, hot afternoon of the same old work. They never imagine that their lives may be curtailed, cut short, by violence and aggression. They never have the chance to appreciate the blessings of everyday life.

On that day, walking out into the July sunshine, it was hard to imagine the mayhem and destruction that occurred on September 11th 2001 in Lower Manhattan. I sincerely hope that this memorial will be a constant reminder to all visitors of the terrible waste and injustice of war.

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time."

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