I am sitting in the same spot where I was when the first plane hit the World Trade Center 7 years ago, watching a much nicer TV than we had then. But this morning I hear talk radio people complaining about lack of coverage, and I hear others saying move on, don't forget, but move on.
Barack Obama released the following statement:
Today, we honor the memory of the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001, and grieve with the families and friends who lost someone they loved in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget those who died. We will always remember the extraordinary efforts of our firefighters, police and emergency responders, and those who sacrificed their own lives on Flight 93 to protect their fellow Americans. And we give thanks for the Americans defending us every day in our communities at home, and in our military abroad.
On 9/11, Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country. Let us renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose. Let us remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large, and must be brought to justice. Let us resolve to defeat terrorist networks, defend the American homeland, stand up for the enduring American values that we cherish, and seek a new birth of freedom at home and around the world.
John McCain spoke in Shanksville, PA, and this is part of his statement.
..."I spoke at the memorial service for one of them, Mark Bingham. I acknowledged that few of us could say we loved our country as well as he and all the heroes of September 11 had. The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort.
"In the Gospel of John it is written, 'Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.' Such was their love; a love so sublime that only God's love surpasses it. I am in awe of it as much as I am in debt to it. May God bless their souls."
That McCain mentioned Mark Bingham is significant. Mark was openly gay.
The gay community, and others, were scapegoated soon after 9/11/2001 by Jerry Falwell, who said “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen’.”
Falwell later apologized, as calculating conservatives often do when they make outlandish remarks, knowing full well that the effect of their remarks will linger. And Falwell's did, as other Christian "leaders" such as James Dobson continued to lay blame.
So let's remember two gay heroes from that day, Mark Bingham and Father Mychal Judge.
Mark Bingham, all 6 feet, 5 inches of him, loved a lot of things: food and wine shared with good company, discussions on politics, travel to foreign lands and laughing with friends. He built his public relations firm into one of the most respected small agencies in America with offices in San Francisco and New York.
Rugby was also a big part of his life. He was a sophomore on Cal State’s 1991 national championship team - the squad that started a string of 11 consecutive national titles.
Bingham never strayed from a fight. He played to win, always using the skills he learned in college rugby.
September 11, he used those same skills to protect a nation.
As the flight was taken over by terrorists, Bingham and a few other courageous men fought back. The burly Bingham used his cell phone to call his mother and tell her the plane was being hijacked and that he loved her.
Moments later the plane crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field.
Transcripts from the flight recorder indicated that the terrorists had intended to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol building.
A leader in Dignity, the organization of gay Catholics, a priest, and a chaplain for the New York Fire Department, Mychal Judge was killed during the collapse of the towers while giving the last rites to a dying firefighter.
The firemen loved him. He had an encyclopedic memory for their family members’ names, birthdays, and passions; he frequently gave them whimsical presents. Once, after visiting President Clinton in Washington, he handed out cocktail napkins emblazoned with the presidential seal. He’d managed to stuff dozens of them into his habit before leaving the White House.
Back in the early 1980s, Judge was one of the first members of the clergy to minister to young gay men with AIDS, officiating at their funeral Masses and consoling their partners and family members. He opened the doors of St. Francis of Assisi Church when Dignity needed a home for its AIDS ministry, and he later ran an aids program at St. Francis.
In 2000, he marched in the first gay-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade, which his friend Brendan Fay, a gay activist, organized in Queens.
Within minutes of the attack on the first tower of the World Trade Center, Father Mike was on the scene. When the tower collapsed, trapping firefighters, he went through the debris giving comfort to the dying.
As he gave the Last Rites to one firefighter, the second tower fell on top of him.
You can read about other out victims of the attack, and how their surviving family members have been affected at the link above.