Today I had the sad experience of explaining 9/11 to my children. After looking at some images of the horrors that occurred on that day a few years before my children were born, we watched President Bush’s Bullhorn speech at Ground Zero. Bush emphasized the nation’s support and prayers for the emergency rescue workers at Ground Zero, and proclaimed these now iconic words:
I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!
My children cheered and danced around the room after hearing Bush’s shout out to our heroes and our enemies. My daughter said, “I love that man!” The impact was not lost on my children that the president was standing arm in arm with New York City firefighters and that he clearly loved America and its heroes.
We then watched Bush’s address to the nation. My daughter shushed her younger brother who was still wired from hearing the cheers from the crowds as we listened to Bush’s bullhorn. Meanwhile, she was intent on hearing his every solemn word from 2001.
I was so grateful as I heard him quote a passage from Psalm 23 and share his own prayer that others would be comforted by a “Power greater than any of us”:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
President Bush’s determination to share his own source of comfort, from the God in whom we trust, stands in stark contrast with the timid leadership of Mayor Bloomberg.
Mayor Bloomberg has steadfastly defended his decision to ban clergy such as evangelicals, as well as first responders, from the pomp and circumstance of his memorial ceremony in New York City today. The bagpipes will sound lovely, the politicians will strike just the right notes, but the glaring omission will still be the absence of our heroes who yet again became an American symbol of strength and bravery- the firemen and police who first responded on 9/11.
At the interfaith prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral, a minuscule but diverse segment of America will be honored through the presence of a Buddhist nun and an incarnate lama. This nod to an obscure segment of our culture and clear attempt to avoid representatives of the Faith of our Fathers will pale in juxtaposition with the beauty and strength that emerged from the ashes of Ground Zero ten years ago.
Contrary to the outlandish, sensationalist claims by Paul Krugman today in the New York Times, 9/11 is not remembered by “shame.” Krugman’s blatant attempt at casting aspersion on the events surrounding 9/11 are as transparent as Bloomberg’s obvious disdain for our Judeo-Christian tradition, regardless of how thinly it is cloaked in clumsy attempts to avoid offending some religious group.
If my children’s reaction to a history lesson on President Bush and his response to 9/11 is any indicator, that President will be viewed very favorably in the long view of history.
May God bless America anew.