Seventeen years have passed since the day that every person throughout the world, and in the United States of America in particular, felt the loss of human life from the hands of terrorists that hijacked several commercial airplanes and attacked the most sacred gift of God – the life of His creation.
9/11/2001 – over 3000 people lost their lives and thousands others, if not millions, continue to live their lives in the post 9/11 reality having lost their children, spouses, parents, friends…
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, on September 11, 2018, the day of commemoration of the beheading of Holy Prophet John the Baptist, the faithful of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ gathered for Divine services led by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel and Very Rev. Fr. Yuriy Siwko, Very Rev. Fr. Petro Levko, Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Perkins, Hieromonk Sophroniy, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Shak and Deacons Ivan Tchopko and Sviatoslav Hot in order to commemorate the lost victims of September 11, 2001 tragedy and pray for the those that continue to live their lives in the post 9/11 environment. Metropolitan Antony was present at the Divine Liturgy and bestowed his blessing upon the faithful in attendance.
Speaking prior and after the service, Vladyka Daniel reflected on the Gospel narratives for each day, but he also shared with those in attendance the prayerful memories of the very first Orthodox Memorial services at Ground Zero in 2001, which were led by His Eminence Metropolitan (Archbishop) Antony on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
Reflecting on the tragedy and sharing the sentiments of the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Archbishop Daniel stated: “… Seventeen years after the still almost incomprehensible terrorist attack upon our nation on 9/11/01 the emotion and horror still weigh heavily upon each and every citizen of our United States of America. We still hear daily references to some aspect of a moment in history that forever changed the course of American life. Sometimes the references relate to positive consequences of an evil act, but more often we are further offended by the negative side effects of man’s ability to hurt and destroy his fellow man.
So much, in fact, is still written and debated about every facet of that late summer day – in newspapers, on television and perhaps too soon on the movie theater screens – that we are loath to add to it all. Ours is, once again, and for all time to come to call upon you as the faithful of our Holy Church to take time out of your busy day – sometime during this month of September, to pause and say a prayer for those who perished and most especially a prayer for those who survived – not only escaping from the buildings – but also for the family members and close friends of those who perished.
We offer the first prayer we shared with you ten years ago as a guide for your personal prayer: "Lord God, Lover of Mankind, bless our God-protected nation, the United States of America, and forgive those who hate and wrong us. Do good to those who do good and grant all our people safety, health, salvation and eternal life. Visit those who continue to suffer from the terrorist attack upon our nation and heal them. Guide those in our armed forces; in our fire, police and rescue services and in our government. Upon those who have asked us, unworthy though we are, to pray for them, have mercy.
Remember our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have fallen asleep in the Lord under the most horrific of circumstances and grant them rest where the light of Your Face shines in a place where there is no more pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering. May their memory be eternal before Your Throne.
Remember us, O Lord, your humble, sinful and unworthy servants and enlighten our minds with the light of Your Knowledge and guide us in the way of your Commandments, through the prayers of our Most-Pure Lady, the Birth-Giver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, and of all Your Saints, for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen."
During the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence served Memorial Litany for the lost souls of terrorist activities, and at the same time called everyone in attendance to remember in their prayers the fallen lives of some many victims of terrorist activities throughout the world, especially in Ukraine and the Middle East.
At the conclusion of the service, Vladyka chanted the prayerful invocation “Memory Eternal” and quoting the unknown author concluded:
“On this day...
17 years ago 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights.
2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning tomorrow.
343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift.
60 police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol.
8 paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift of saving lives.
None of them saw past 10:00am Sept 11, 2001.
In one single moment life may never be the same.
As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.”