Weekly Reflection - "We trained for fires, not terrorism"

10 September 2021

Canon Peter

"We trained for fires, not terrorism" - Michael Silvestri, former New York city firefighter

The honesty and humanity expressed in these six words says so much: “We trained for fires, not terrorism.” They are words of an individual expressing the impossible task of responding to the overwhelming evil and chaos that was caused by the attack on the twin towers. Honesty, humility and a sense of shared humanity seemed so often to be lacking from political leaders in the days and years that followed.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the New York city firefighters stood out as beacons of hope and courage. Their readiness to head into the place of danger and search for survivors gave us hope in humanity at a time when hope seemed hard to find. Twenty years on, their legacy continues to shine. Michael Silvestri is one of the firefighters that survived and his testimony of the impact of trauma and the challenge to rebuild a life in its wake is a poignant one.

343 firefighters died and their names are now honoured at Ground Zero along with the hundreds of other victims.

Remembering the horrors of 9/11 is not easy. The twentieth anniversary of this world changing tragedy arrives in the midst of the Afghan refugee crisis with its painful reminder of the complex and fragile geopolitics that continue to wreck lives and traumatise many in our world today.

Wakefield Cathedral has dedicated space in the nave to honour victims, remember the acts of courage and pray for peace. The display with its list of 2977 names and 90 flags of countries that lost citizens in the attack is a poignant reminder as well as a place for us to gather and hope for a better future.

It’s difficult to know how to pray about such tragic events, but maybe these words of Jesus provide a good place to start...

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

To a troubled world peace from Christ.

To a searching world love from Christ.

To a waiting world hope from Christ.

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