Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

September 13, 2009


Two days ago marked the eighth anniversary of the historic 9/11 ! Destruction of our twin towers by our own instruments of power in terrorists' hands! I was living in my East 93rd Street apartment and out for a morning walk. A doorman alerted me to what was happening downtown. I had been helping at nearby St. Thomas More's. Providentially, I was scheduled for the noon-day Mass. When I arrived, the church was filled to its capacity. The mood of the people was unusual - somber, mournful - but with an evident touch of fear of the unknown.

Among the roughly 3000 lives lost in New York, 23 were from the NYPD - Moira Smith and Bobby Fazio of the 13th Precinct and Brian McDonnell of Emergency Squad One - all neighbors from across the street from Epiphany rectory, my former home.
A local firehouse near my apartment lost nine from 22 Engine and Ladder Company 13. The Fire Depatment lost 343 firefighters, depriving 607 children of their fathers. Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial firm, lost 700 employees, depriving 1300 children of a parent. A wedding I was to perform in November did not occur. The groom, a bond trader in the South Tower was gone.

In the weeks and months following, countless memorial services and funeral Masses - portraits, helmets, but no bodies present - were held. A text that I frequently used was from the Second Book of Samuel:

"Consider, O Nation, those that are dead, slain on your high
places. The illustrious of the people are slain upon the
mountains: how are the valiant fallen...Be desolate for there
was destroyed the shield of the valiant. They were swifter than
eagles, stronger than lions. How are the valiant fallen!"

There are far too many personal stories and dramatic incidents for this limited space. Let one suffice: An evening in a West Side bar and grill; a gathering of the NY Press Photographers Association to deal with their trauma - they lost two dead, had several injured, witnessed terrifying scenes of people falling from the burning towers! A friend, Todd Maisel, a Daily News photographer, who had asked me along to pray with them, jumped up on a table top, and, like a biblical prophet, tearfully spoke of heroism and destruction. He termed these times, not Old Testament times, nor New Testament times, but a Newest Testament time, in which we confront a new face of evil!