Posted by: Peadar Ban | September 12, 2009

Comfort My People

Lady of Guadalupe

I wrote the piece below eight years ago today, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.  I didn’t know that, then.  But, who better, don’t you know.

It appeared on the front page of the Zanesville, OH, Times Recorder on Sunday, 9/15/01 if my math is correct.


“Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing fresh from the Word!”

“Daddy,” it was my daughter, Jeanne, calling me from New Hampshire. She was crying. “I’m sorry to bother you. They just crashed a plane into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. They’re burning.”

I was born in New York City, went to school there, lived there for 30
years. For five years I worked in a building across the street from the
World Trade Center. I watched it being built. And its scope and size
amazed me, who played and worked among metal and stone giants since childhood.

I married a New Yorker and my children were born in the City. My sister
and brother and their families live there, now. I am from a lot of
places, but I am a New Yorker. It is, for me, one of the most beautiful
and friendly spots in the world. Its people are the most spirited and
fun loving, adventurous and daring of any people I have ever met, and
I’ve been around the world more than once. Chicago may have broad
shoulders. New York has Heart and Soul. It’s the only city in the
country to have a state named after it. It is the capital of the world!

I awakened this morning and thought that, after yesterday’s horror,
things, light, colors, nature itself would look, feel and seem
different. I thought that the terrible evil which had been hurled at the
place of my birth, the wickedness spawned by living hate would drain
heart and soul from everything around me.

Not so. The testimony of the earth and sky talk about the heart and
soul and say you have not changed, nor shall you despite the cruelty and hatred of yesterday, despite the sadness and anger of today. And the place and people where your heart and soul were formed and nurtured shall not either.

Yesterday my niece, newly married to a cop in the City walked eight
hours home from her office across the street from the World Trade
Center. She stepped over dead people and pieces of a dead building as
she did so. My sister, herself a cop’s widow, said she would probably
not see her husband for a month. (He is safe, thank God.) She also
told me that her other daughter had been at a meeting in the WTC the day before at the spot where the first plane hit. All those people she had met with died yesterday, at once. I am thankful she and all I love are safe, but I know of the pain thousands awoke with this morning, pain of heart and soul.

The same sun that rises now just over the nearby ridge has been shining for an hour or so on destruction and wounds in the places where I used to play and work, shining on the people I lived among, the people I love. It rose today not less but more bright I suspect. And the sun brought with it both promise and fulfillment. In the darkness of
anguish and pain there is light. In the middle of grim anger and heavy
toil there is hope. In the blackness of sudden loss light shines.

Everything has changed, and nothing, in the City I love. What must be
done will be done and the wounds healed that were caused by malevolence personified. Restoration and renewal will take place because, after all darkness cannot last. We have this promised to us. Light and love last forever.

I commend to your attention the words of a hymn I was unable to sing
this morning because of my tears:
“God, whose almighty Word
Chaos and darkness heard
And took their flight:
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And where the Gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray
Let there be light.”

Yesterday everyone in the country became a New Yorker.



  1. Thank you for letting us read this again. It still (the day 9-11-01, and your writing) “hits” me as it did 8 years ago.

  2. I was looking for “comfort my daughters” and found this and comfort and tears for that horrible day.

    • Dear Shirley,

      Thank you for your comment. Please make yourself comfortable, here.



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