Fr. George W. Rutler: Infandum: 18 Years On

How 9/11 Turned Me Into A Soldier, by Stephen Roberts
September 11, 2019
Founder’s Quote
September 12, 2019

A new view of a chilling sight. AP Photo/NYPD via ABC News, Det. Greg Semendinger

By Fr. George W. Rutler, Crisis Magazine, September 11, 2019

Editor’s note: this article originally appeared in the November 2001 print edition of Crisis.

Fr. George W. RutlerIn 1789 George Washington prayed in St. Paul’s Church, on what we now call lower Broadway, on the day of his inauguration as the first president of the United States. The churchyard was already old. On September 11, 2001, several new corpses were lying on the old graves. Then quickly a temporary morgue was set up in a nearby hotel. All that the Founding Fathers stood for was contradicted in a thunderous attack on the heart of the city that calls itself the capital of the world.

Grown children had grown accustomed to taking prosperity for granted and had often scorned the virtues that created the prosperity. The frenzied celebrations of the third millennium were largely conspicuous for their cheerful banality. There were fireworks but no great blazing works of art. A generation after men went to the moon, celebrants did circles on Ferris wheels; in London a dome was built with no particular purpose in mind and was hastily filled with just about everything except an altar to God. The general euphoria was tinged with melancholy, almost like that of Alexander with no more worlds to conquer. What to do with endless peace? Some said that history had ended. Then came an airplane flying so low in a city that usually does not notice noise of any kind, that I had to take notice.

Crowds screamed and ran when the first tower fell; when the second came down, many just sat stupefied on the ground and groaned. Those buildings were not widely loved by New Yorkers. In the 1960s when Penn Station was dismantled, they were built with the rebarbative euphoria of the “International School,” whose architects and sycophantic political backers defied everything that had gone before. An architect famously complained that the towers “tilted” the Manhattan skyline.  ….