Thank you to the Firefighters who bring us together every year for this ceremony. Ossining is a community that deeply appreciates the service of our first responders. We rest easier safe in the knowledge that you all stand ready to protect us.
By bringing us together for this remembrance each year, you not only keep alive the memories of that tragic day 17 years ago, you nourish this community by reminding us of the universal story we all share.
We are like communities all across America today who gather to share and listen. Most of us today were alive in 2001, and we recall our own stories. When we come together we listen to each other, and with each story we hear, we deepen our connections to each other.
While each personal story of that day is unique, it most always is also a story with the same theme about the unifying spirit that shined so brilliantly in the wake of the towers falling.
This weekend I had the opportunity to visit three houses of worship—Episcopalian, Baptist, and Quaker. While these all share a common scripture, they have their own vocabulary for expressing the foundation of every religion and every culture. Whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic—you have a way of expressing the same universal thing that we all share.
Whether you call it the light within, the Holy Spirit, God, Christ, Allah, inner wisdom, life-force, the word, or simply humanity, you know that it shines most brightly when we face the greatest evil. And thank God it does. Because, we need those personal stories to be about more than the agonizing loss, the violence, the fury.
There’s a song that’s been stuck in my head since I attended the musical program at Trinity Church on Saturday afternoon. So I will close with a verse from the wise spiritual leader, Bette Midler:
From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope
Playing songs of peace
They are the songs of every man