This is a tough one. It is daunting to write something for you to read on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks in Washington D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania; to write something worthy of the day.
I think part of what makes this so daunting is that even after 10 years of reflection, I still have such a blur of emotions around the events of that day. I remember 10 years ago I was getting my young children ready for school when the pictures of airplanes crashing into the towers were being shown on TV for the first time. We were hungry for information and kept the TV on, but we tried to not overwhelm the children. I remember my children being frightened, and I was too. I tried to show them my honest strength, as best I could. I told them this is a day in history that they would remember for the rest of their lives, just as my generation all remembers where they were when they heard about the assassination of President John Kennedy.
I also remember how people were that week. People were shocked, afraid, and quieter than usual. And in the face of this great tragedy, many people became their best selves. The Red Cross in my city had to turn away blood donors because they had too many to handle. Flags were displayed at homes where flags had never flown before, as we all felt like Americans for the first time in my lifetime. People developed a new and greater respect for the role that hard working firefighters and police officers play in our community. Friends who lived in other countries sent notes of comfort and support to me, as an American who had faced a terrible loss in my nation.
I remember our religious response as a nation. Church attendance on the weekend following the attacks skyrocketed. Most all of the religious leaders I talked with said they had twice the usual number of people in their pews, many people they had never been there before. Folks looked to religion, looked to God, to find some comfort and find some peace. In the face of the turmoil, we often look to the great mystery to try to understand and to try to find some hope. I believe this is one of the roles our faith plays in life, to help us find strength and comfort during those times when we feel like we are on shaky ground. In addition to hours of prayers, I remember how many churches stepped up to protect our Muslim neighbors. Many congregations of different faiths stood watch over their local mosques, day and night, to protect them against attacks by angry people who confused the religion held by the terrorists with the source of the terror itself.
On this day we remember. This is perhaps the most important thing we can do. As we remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we honor those who died. We mourn our losses, both the loss of life and the loss of our feeling of security. We try to rebuild. Today I pray that we try to keep alive the values of compassion and courage that we found in the face of this terrible tragedy 10 years ago. May it be so.
• Schurr is the minister of the Juneau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship