Originally on CBC radio’s Commentary program, September 11, 2002
How have the relatives of people killed in the attacks of a year ago handled the past year? Andrew Rice lost his brother in the World Trade Center. On Commentary Andrew Rice remembers his brother and explains how he’s found some sort of comfort in his loss.
[b>Andrew Rice: [/b>
In August of 2001 I was vacationing with my family in the Rocky Mountains. As my 31 year-old brother David and I wound our way through frightening mountain passes, I chided him for driving so recklessly. I couldn’t believe how he could make a business call on his mobile phone, look up his next client’s number on his palm pilot, all the while steering through hairpin turns with his legs gripping the wheel.
Two weeks later I was in Toronto when I got the call. A plane had hit the World Trade Center, where David worked. He had phoned my mother and father to say he was O.K.; the plane hadn’t hit his tower. Minutes later I came upon a crowd of people gasping in front of a television set and I saw the second plane hit my brother’s tower, Minutes later it was coming down in a horrific cloud. I was seeing his murder broadcast on television.
I began a strange journey that day. At the most painful point in my life I was forced to make a choice: harden my soul against the perpetrators of this evil act, let my bitterness ferment, or try to take comfort from the spiritual lessons I had studied in divinity school, lessons about the power of religion to move us from grief and anger, to reconciliation, teachings that now seemed remote intellectual exercises.
In the months since September 11th it was those lessons that kept me moving toward some sort of private resolution. For me it was a wrenching struggle to find redemption in the midst of all the regret and sorrow of losing my beautiful brother.
For my own mental health I had to gradually let go of the anger that was walled up in me and the guilt that I had lived and that David hadn’t. I had to try to understand why they did it, to ask for justice and accountability without revenge and to work towards forgiveness.
Now, one year later, it has brought me here: to a place where I find a strange comfort in feeling connected to other victims of violence, whether they are grieving mothers in Rwanda or traumatized children in Afghanistan. What an unexpected initiation into another human family! Here is my family, side by side with other victims across the world, suffering the casualties of our leaders’ and extremists’ wars.
On this anniversary I don’t celebrate America, not because I don’t love her, I do. But this is a sacred day where I want to reach out to my compatriots of the global community who join with me in pleading to our confused leaders and ignorant fanatics to hear our voice. Listen to us; listen to our fallen brothers and sisters, and reconcile with one another. Please.
For Commentary, I’m Andrew Rice in Houston.
On CBC Radio