It’s been widely reported that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned all clergy and prayer at the upcoming ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. In my opinion his decision is incomprehensible and disgraceful and is clearly not in the best interest of those families that were impacted by the attack. At times of grief people turn to God not politicians. Keep in mind that many different faith groups were among the first responders 10 years ago so excluding them is even more unsettling.
If a minister can deliver an invocation at a presidential inauguration, it’s hard to see a constitutional argument against a non-denominational, clergy- led prayer at a city’s memorial event. During a live television broadcast on the evening of the September 11 attacks, following addresses by then-House and Senate leaders Dennis Hastert and Tom Daschle, members of the United States Congress broke out into an apparently spontaneous verse of “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capital building in Washington, D.C.
Since the 9-11 terrorist attacks even Major League Baseball recognizes how blessed our country is and “God Bless America” is commonly sung during the seventh inning stretch. Also since 2003, “God Bless America” is sung at the Indianapolis 500. I’m certain there are some non-believers at the ballgames or racetrack but I’m also as certain they will stay for both events. By the way I point out the song “God Bless America” since it is in fact a prayer. Let’s read the word’s together:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
While I personally feel great frustration with Mayor Bloomberg for being so insensitive and misguided I truly feel sorry for those 9-11 family members that would benefit greatly from prayer. There is no political speech or cleaver poem that will ever replace heartfelt prayer for those that are hurting.
It’s clear the politically correct event will go on as planned so it’s very important that each of us take the initiative to pray for those impacted on 9-11-2001. We don’t have to be in New York!
Danny D. Bare is the Executive Director of the Clermont County Veterans Commission and a Vietnam combat veteran.