|Robert A Sirico|
|Tuesday, 11 September 2012 13:13|
I was in Europe at the time. My schedule called for a visit to Paris on September 10 followed by a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in Slovakia, then speeches in Warsaw and Amsterdam on welfare reform and economic freedom. My flight from Paris to Slovakia was uneventful and, returning from lunch in downtown Bratislava, I thought how the city had changed in the decade since I had last visited: the buildings were cleaner, the food better, the service professional and pleasant, the people engaging –not glum as I had noted previously. Entering my room I checked for email, and while waiting for the connection, I heard a news update come in on my phone – “plane flies into the World Trade Center.” Thinking it was some kind of prop plane that had wandered off course, I turned on the television just as the second airliner crashed into the World Trade Center.
Reflexively I prayed for the souls caught in the conflagration and began to call friends and relatives back home. My brother Tony, who lives in Brooklyn not far from where we grew up, was watching the whole tragic event unfold from the roof of his apartment building near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. He later told me that the ashes of those murdered that autumn morning fell across every borough of New York. The ashes, I imagined, fell like the snowflakes at the close of James Joyce’s story, “The Dead,” falling all across a city I know so well – ashes settling on the lake at Prospect Park where I used to go fishing, softly descending on Coney Island, on the beach where I first learned to swim, encircling the bell tower of Regina Pacis where I celebrated my first Mass as a priest, and wafting on to Old Calvary cemetery where my father was buried and later my mother.