After Ten Years

Next Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the shock and pain the attacks of that day brought to the U.S. and to the world. So much has changed in these ten years, and I often wonder if we will ever fully regain the sense of safety that in retrospect seems like innocence.

The past decade has been defined by the struggle to bring the perpetrators to justice and to prevent future attacks. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The line between national security needs and constitutional freedoms has constantly been under negotiation. Survivors of the attacks, the families and friends of the victims, first responders and their families, and all of us were relieved when Mr. Bin Laden was killed earlier this year, but we are far from what we too lightheartedly call closure. We continue to grief and to rebuild and to seek deeper understanding.

We will each have our own personal way to honor the great losses of that day and to remember the extraordinary courage of ordinary men and women who responded with selfless service. We will observe a moment of silence in our worship services at Vine Street. But many Nashvillians will also come together from across the various communities of our city: we want to affirm our belief that peace is not a thing of the past but a possibility for the future.

In the afternoon of September 11, 2011, the Office of Religious Life at Vanderbilt University invites the community to an interfaith gathering at Benton Chapel. This gathering, “Prayer, Remembrance and Hope,” will include music offered by Vanderbilt students and Blair Children’s Choirs, readings by representatives of various faith traditions, the presence of ROTC/NROTC and police/fire personnel as well as members of the Interfaith Council, the Divinity School and the VU student government.

The painful events of 9/11 have reminded us that we cannot live in isolation as if on islands. We must reach out to each other, try to understand and appreciate our differences, and prevent seeds of fear and suspicion to take root. Coming together to remember helps us do that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011, 2:30 p.m.
Prayer, Remembrance and Hope
Interfaith Gathering at Benton Chapel