The Only One Who Saves: Remembering the Victims of September 11

Among the people who were still inside the Twin Towers at the time of the collapse, that infamous September 11, 2001, only 2 survived.
This impressive documentary tells the story of one of them, Pasquale Buzzelli. 

He was still on the 18th floor of the building and collapsed along with it. The mass of 80 floors of debris above him and a 60-meter jump into the void were no match for the One who can do everything and evidently performed a miracle – but, as with any miracle, someone can always delude himself that it was “a mere chance“.

After the flight, Pasquale was unconscious for a few hours and woke up sitting on a pile of debris, a few feet above the ground, surrounded by rubble and flames, unable to move.

Nearly 3,000 civilians and 343 firefighters died in the 9/11 attacks, not counting the injured and those-about 40,000-who developed illnesses due to exposure to the toxic dust generated after the collapse. The firefighters-true heroes-had rushed to save people and were themselves victims of the collapse, along with their chaplain, the Franciscan Mychal Judge, the first verified victim of the tragedy, who was there to assist them.

Other firemen arrived after the collapse and, on their own initiative, without superior orders, ventured into the rubble in search of survivors. That’s how firefighter Michael Morabito found Pasquale and was able to get him to safety.

Pasquale’s pregnant wife Louise thought her husband had died in the collapse but instead saw him come home that same evening. The daughter that was born was named Hope.

In the documentary you can see the emotion of the protagonists and the effects of the trauma that changed their lives, marking them indelibly. They deserve our compassion.

I had already begun the journey of consecrated life and that day I went to Pisa to take my last exam before leaving the university for good to follow God’s call. After the exam, I went to see my friends in the last apartment where I had lived as a university student and there, together with them, I watched the events on live TV.

Like everyone else I was in shock, and the collapse of those towers was also a confirmation for me of how unstable the realities of this world are and how it is appropriate to build something that remains forever, with all the sacrifices that this entails.

Recently Gino Strada, a famous human rights activist who recently passed away, has been rightly celebrated. In his last article


he lucidly addresses the fact that the war in Afghanistan was a war of unjustified aggression. A war that has caused 241000 civilian victims, a number much higher than the victims of 9/11.

The United States have spent 2 thousand billion dollars and Italy 8,5 billion euros to finance this “holy war”. As if the number of dead and the money wasted were not enough to say how senseless this war has been, the war ended with the return to power of the Taliban who have put their hands on sophisticated weaponry. It is hard to think of a worse way to honor the memory and do justice to the victims of 9/11.

Moreover, the people who have lost family members and acquaintances in the Twin Towers have also lost soldiers friends and family members sent to Afghanistan. The deaths of those who gave their lives believing they were serving the good and their country were not in vain, they will have their reward for their generosity and their sacrifice is not wasted, God in fact looks at the intentions of the heart. They were pawns, tragically mishandled by those who had the real responsibility to choose and will pay the price before God.

In the hijacked planes and Twin Towers could have been all of us, wealthy Westerners on vacation in New York. It is more difficult to empathize with the anonymous mass of dead Afghans, about 30,000 of whom are children. They are distant geographically, culturally, and we always have that damned tendency to want to be on the side of the strongest.

September 11 has shaken our consciences, in remembering it a prayer goes up to God for all the victims and their families, and also for the civilians and soldiers victims of the war that followed, that all have the strength to move forward and bear the painful memories without being crushed.

In senseless evil we see at work the “Mystery of Iniquity” of which Sacred Scripture speaks, which will be swept away with the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ, so Christians, even in the greatest trials are always full of hope. Along with hope there is also a need for remembrance and compassion for the victims. September 11 will bring a seed of hope if we accept the invitation not to remain insensitive to human suffering and not to provoke more of it and if our eyes are directed more towards the divine light that knows no alteration nor sunset.

Every tragedy has its uniqueness because it touches the lives of unique and unrepeatable human beings. Every tragedy, whether small or immense, the Crucifixion of Jesus, the concentration camp and terrorism, the burning of a building, death at work, natural disaster, crime, useless war, home violence, like 9/11 deserves its own Ground Zero: so as not to forget and invoke the Only One who saves.


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