Remarks at the Town of Hull 9/11 Ceremony

Good evening, I bring you the greetings of the Parishioners at St. Nicholas United Methodist Church.

It is indeed an honor to be here this evening and to have been asked to say a few words of remembrance.

It has been said that when a historic event takes place, we remember exactly where we are. The first man to walk on the moon, the assassination of JFK, the Red Sox winning the world series in 2004, and the day the world stood still, September 11, 2001.

It was a day much like today, blue sky, warm breeze, birds singing in the trees. It was my first year of seminary, and I had just finished a class at Boston College. As I walked across the campus, I remember it being relatively quiet, but I was unsure why. Hundreds of students walking to and from class and not much in the way of talking.

I got in my car to return to my dorm, and I turned on the radio. I was surprised that there was no music playing but rather a news report that reminded me of something from the war of the worlds. Time seemed to stop at that moment.

As I got to my dorm room floor, the television was on in the common area; just after I arrived, the first of the towers came down. We all watched in horror as the events of the day unfolded on live TV.

As the day drew on, it was time for us to gather for prayer in the chapel. I returned to my room to change, and as I opened my closet door, I caught a glimpse of the Army Uniform hanging there among all the other things. I had worn that uniform for years, but now it had taken on a different look.

The following days and weeks saw our country come together like it had not for years. Neighbors were helping neighbors and, in our collective grief, we found common ground. Even the politicians seemed to get along for a while.

Today is a day when we remember. We say “We Will Never Forget,” but it seems that we have forgotten the lessons of that day and the days that followed. I long for those days of cooperation, and I wish it did not take a tragedy for us to come together.

In 2004 the country singer Tim McGraw released a song called “Live Like You Were Dying.” The song is about a man who gets a diagnosis that is going to take his life. He vows that he is going to live like these are his last days. He does all of the things that he had been waiting to do. He goes skydiving, he rides a bull, and he climbs the Rocky Mountains.

But there is more than just doing things. He becomes the husband he always should have been, repairs his relationship with his father, and gives forgiveness he has denied. He is going to live his life as if today is his last day.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, thousands of people got up, dressed, kissed their families goodbye, and started their day. None of them had any idea that it was going to be their last day. What would we do differently if we knew this was it? How different would tomorrow be if it was the last day?

On my wrist, I wear a silver bracelet that bears the name of Fr. Mychal Judge. Fr. Mychal was a Franciscan Priest and the Chaplain with the New York City Fire Department. Fr. Mychal was at the Towers on September 11th and was killed while ministering to someone who had died.

I have the honor of serving as Chaplain with the Quincy Fire Department, and Fr. Mychal is the reason why. Fr. Mychal was doing what he loved to do, helping people when he was killed on that day.

Let us resolve this day to live to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. We can bring honor to those who lost their lives that day by being the best version of ourselves, and by doing so, we will never forget.

God bless you all, God bless our First Responders, God bless our military, and God bless America.

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