On Twitter today, I came across a post by Isramom about Ronald John Hemenway, a US sailor who died eight years ago today.
Her post was part of Project 2,996, which aims to turn Stalin's dictum that the death of an individual is a tragedy while that of a multitude is a statistic on its head by having each victim remembered individually. I quote from her bio of the sailor and father of a young family:
The decision to join the Navy eventually led him to Italy where he met and married Marinell in March 1977.The majority of the 9/11 victims were, of course, Americans, but countries from Argentina to Venezuala also lost nationals (including 67 Brits).
Ronald and Marinella’s first child, Stefan, was born on November 6, 1998 and for the first time in his Navy career Ronald was sent out to sea for six months to refurbish the US La Salle. His previous sea duty was no longer than five weeks. He decided to seek a position that wouldn’t take him from his new family, and went to work at the Pentagon in March 2000 assigned to the Office of the Chief of Navy Operations. Ronald and Marinella’s second child, a daughter, Desiree was born on November 12, 2000.
On September 11, 2001, a Tuesday morning just before 10:00 a.m., a commercial jetliner struck the west side of the Pentagon. Ronald was officially declared missing. On September 17, 2001 a flag was flown over the United States Capitol at the request of Senator Sam Brownback in memory of Petty Officer Ronald J. Hemenway for his dedicated service in the United States Armed Forces. Ronald was honored with others lost at the Pentagon in a Memorial Service attended by President George W. Bush, held on October 11, 2001 at the Pentagon River Parade Field. A Christian Memorial Service in memory of Ronald was held at Hope Lutheran Church in Shawnee, Kansas, on January 12, 2002. The flag that was flown at the Capitol building was presented to the Hemenway family and raised at a ceremony on Bob and Shirley’s property in Shawnee.
It's not long been 9/11 in the Draughty Old Fen, and I know this will be a day of remembering and prayer for the dead and for those left behind: loved ones, of course, but in a sense everybody now alive has been left behind by the acts of terrorists whose names are now curses. Peace and safety have fled and will not be back for some time.
Remembering, too, of what happened and who did it. Who did it in the sense that it wasn't Seventh-Day Adventists, but also remembering that not every Muslim was at the joystick, and that moderate Muslims need to be given the space in which to reclaim their religion from madmen.
And remembering that some things are objectively right or wrong. For example, John Gray argues in his curiously-named Black Mass - Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia that Osama Bin Laden's goal was never anything other than supplanting the House of Saud. Personally, I don't think that when we face our Creator he'll be in the mood to discuss deconstructionalist ethics.
Please take some time to remember. To whisper a prayer, certainly; to wear a black armband if you wish; to arrange a minute's silence if you can.
But most of all, please remember.