Witnesses of the attacks on the World Trade Center
Fr Michal Czyzewski, OSPPE
The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center is approaching. ‘This year, because of the jubilee, New York is organising more meetings commemorating the day of 11 September 2001,’ says Leokadia Glogowska, ‘especially commemorating those who unexpectedly ended the last stage of their lives on that day. Most meetings will be held at ‘Ground Zero,’ which is a big construction site today. Among the projects of the new World Business Center, which is to be created there, the construction of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to honour the memory of those killed in the terrorist attacks on WTC is in the most advanced stage. The basements of the Museum have been built in the footprints of the two WTC towers and will be temporarily open to the public on the ceremony of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
Recollections of the rescued Polish woman
– Although ten years seem to be a long time I think that neither I nor anyone can summarise feelings and thoughts about what happened. Every anniversary of this event is a moment of special recollections and deep reflection.
I was among those who in God’s plan survived the attack on WTC. I know that on 11 September 2001 I received a lot – second life – and that’s why I want to do my best to give something of my life to others, for example I share my testimony of faith, referring to the event of 11 September 2001.
Lord God places on my way numerous people from various countries and religions whom I can tell about what God did in my life through the experience of the tragedy of that memorable day. The addressees of my sharing are also priests, and several weeks ago I had the privilege to share my testimony of faith with Poland’s Primate Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk. Each such encounter with another person and his reaction to the life saving miracle is another lesson for me and constant experiencing of God. The people I meet remain in my prayers. I also know that these are often mutual prayers, which as small lights are intercessions to God in various places of the world, creating together a sphere of love. I think that ten years after the attack on the WTC the world especially needs this love today.
‘Love and forgiveness will protect the world and save humankind,’ is the thought that most often comes to my mind and that I would like to give to the readers of ‘Niedziela’ on the tenth anniversary of the 11 September tragedy.
People from all continents have found their homes in the United States. In every corner of the world there are people who have their relatives and acquaintances in this country. Being spiritually united we gather at the four places connected directly with this place where the terrorist attacks occurred, and we want to pray for eternal life for the dead.
Two of the hijacked airlines hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the third airliner destroyed some part of the Pentagon. The last (delayed) flight of the United Airlines 93 did not hit the target – it crashed into a field of Pennsylvania, some 15 minute flight from Washington. It could have hit the White House or the Capitol although we are not sure about that. The plane did not reach its target because the passengers that had learnt about the fate of the other airlines, attacked the hijackers and caused the plane to crash into some uninhabited area – fragmentary information about the last minutes of this event come from the passengers’ phone calls and the data registered in the black box of the airliner.
Tablets of remembrance
Remembrance, common prayer, flowers and lit candles will also be in the places where the victims come from. Families, friends and collaborators remember and want to honour their victims, abiding in mournful sorrow. It will take place, e.g., in the Parish of St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr in Manhattan, New York, where there is a bronze relief of Our Lady of New York in sorrow and sadness, with her motherly hands embracing the burning towers in Manhattan, designed by Andrzej Pitynski (the photo of the relief in on page 10).
‘Never forget. Pray for all the innocent victims and heroes who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on America on 11 September 2001,’ says the inscription the author put on the relief. ‘Creating this tablet I honoured the innocently murdered people representing the entire world, including the Polish victims,’ says the sculptor Andrzej Pitynski.
Ten years of sufferings, pain and tragedy in the whole world has passed. Mankind is bleeding. Poland is bleeding. The Smolensk tragedy – Poland’s suffering lasts.
On the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on America, 11 September 2011, a monument entitled ‘Patriot’ will be unveiled in Stalowa Wola. It is a monumental composition – the height of 12 m. ‘I created the composition in 1975 not realising an order but fulfilling the need of my heart, and the composition was ahead of time. It was realised in 2010 thanks to the SWAP veterans from New York. ‘Patriot’ is a symbol having an international dimension; it is a symbol of mankind despite the history of suffering and tragedies of various nations – ‘Polish Golgotha.’ ‘Patriot’ is a symbol of life – ‘Spirit of Fight,’ a warrior carrying the hussar’s wing and a torn-out heart, with a sabre in his right hand, proudly raised head, living his life with the cross on his breast, proud, brave. And we, like the warrior, live our lives believing in the victory of good over evil. As our national anthem says, ‘Poland has not perished yet/ So long as we still live/ What foreign force has taken from us/We shall take back with the sword,’ Andrzej Pitynski says.
Polish student found after a year
On the tenth anniversary we also want to recollect a young student. The New York adventure of 21-year-old Lukasz Milewski who had gone on holiday to New York, where his parents had lived, was – according to his plans – to last till 26 September 2001. After his return he was to continue his studies of management and marketing in Bialystok. In New York, after having been interviewed, he was employed and began work in one of the WTC towers. On 11 September 2001, like other employees in the New York Metropolis, full of zeal, strength and energy to work, Lukasz went to the 110th floor of the northern tower to do his duties, which he had been doing for four weeks. His young life ended there. He is still alive, wise, diligent and smiling in his parents’, sister’s, family’s and friends’ memories. Lukasz’s body was found after a year.
Pall of mourning
The anniversary of the tragedy that the United States, together with thousands of families dispersed all over the world, are experiencing combines the desire of peace and respect for human life. In Lower Manhattan, the place where the twin towers stood, a mausoleum, which will certainly be a sign and voice of mourning after the victims of the terrorist attacks, will be constructed soon. These ten years from 11 September 2001 is a period of mourning which extends its pall over the places affected by terrorism.