‘Back to school' now means anniversary of September 11
Written by Edith A. Guffey
September 2002

Edith A. Guffey

When I wrote this column, I was on vacation and thinking about returning to the office and a full fall schedule. My intention was to write about the experiences that I had over the summer at Regional Youth Events and the meeting of the United Black Christians and Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice. These were wonderful events. I was renewed by conversation with many of our finest young people and by the wonderful spirit, music and history that has been a part of the legacy of United Black Christians and Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice.

But as I sat down to write, my mind went almost immediately to the reality that "back to school" this year also means we are very close to the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack.

I'm not sure that the end of summer and the beginning of the fall program year will ever really be quite the same as it was before last year. The "what did you do over your summer vacation" questions will quickly be replaced by memories and commemorations of the tragic events of last September 11. Not only will the families and friends of those who died be reliving the events of last September, but our entire nation will observe this anniversary.

How our lives have changed this last year. I will remember that day as the day that our sense of security as a country was lost. We learned what others have known for years, what it's like to live with the fear of terrorism.

But on this anniversary, I will also remember and give thanks especially for pastors who ministered to families and friends of victims, who led overflowing congregations in times of prayer as we gathered seeking comfort and assurance.

I will pray for the families who lost loved ones. We will likely hear many stories in the next several weeks, but we will just as likely never know the depth of the pain that they continue to live with.

I will give thanks for rescue workers, counselors, social workers, and chaplains who have heard story after story, attended funeral after funeral and who themselves are wounded with the load of grief of those they serve.

And I will remember those who have died in Afganistan. We all know that grief, loss and fear know no nationality.

May's God's grace, mercy and comfort be with us all.

Edith A. Guffey is Associate General Minister of the United Church of Christ.

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