Remembering September 11th

Deal W. Hudson
September 11, 2002

Many of us have been dreading the approach of the one-year anniversary of September 11th. After a long year of suffering under the memory of that horrible day, most of us are loath to relive it. We want to forget, or at least not subject ourselves anew to the pain of facing those images that have haunted us ever since. The media have been increasing their coverage of the events building up to this day, and commentators everywhere have been weighing in with their reflections on what the anniversary means.

Last September, such reflections seemed timely and important, and Americans everywhere put aside their differences and petty concerns to stand together in our time of grief. These days, however, that sense of urgency is waning, and most of us just want to make it through the day without being dragged down under the weight of bad memories. What’s the point of re-opening the wounds?

Let me answer with a story. You wouldn’t have heard it in the news; none of the major broadcasters picked it up, and it eventually got lost amidst all the countless stories from that day. A few days after the attack, on his visit to New York City and Ground Zero, President Bush made a stop to a nearby convention center where he was to speak to a group of people who had lost family members at the World Trade Center. His schedule only allowed for a brief speech and 20 minutes at the gathering before the Secret Service would whisk him off to safety. (Security concerns were still high at the time.)

But when the president saw the intense grief of the people, he decided he wouldn’t give a speech after all. Instead, he stayed in the building until he had personally spoken with every last person there. He spent two hours praying, hugging, and grieving for each individual, allowing himself to share in their unspeakable pain.

Bush wasn’t playing to any cameras or grabbing any headlines, or trying to gain voter support. He was simply leading the country the best way he knew – by uniting with people in their suffering and showing his personal support. On that day, President Bush gave an important example of how to handle adversity: stand strong in the face of ultimate grief and despair.

In the months since September 11th, the regular concerns of life came pressing back in, and our focus was distracted. Catholics were shaken by the sex abuse scandal, and the country began thinking of war. Life has continued with all its joys, sorrows, and distractions.

But I encourage you on this anniversary not to be distracted. Remember that day in all its horror and sorrow. As President Bush demonstrated, it’s not enough to pay lip service to the victims of this tragedy – we must all be united in our grief, but also in our support of one another. It’s only when we confront this event personally that we can overcome it.

At the World Youth Day in Toronto this year, Pope John Paul II had some encouraging words of hope for the people who had been shaken, words that could help us all through this difficult time.

“Although I have lived through much darkness…I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young… Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.”

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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