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What if….?

by Sep 7, 2021Weekly-Email

This, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, brings back memories of “Where was I on 9/11. ”Indeed it was one of the worst days in our history as a nation. So many lives lost. We lost one of our very own parishioners that day at the Pentagon, David Laychak.

On 9/11 2011, I was here in my office at the parish. Parishioners called me to tell me that the World Trade Center was hit. I immediately went to find a TV to see in fact what was transpiring. It soon became clear that we, the US. were under terrorist attack. I was Chaplain in the Fire Department at the time and was a member of the Washington DC Council of Governments Public safety Chaplain Corps. We Chaplains received word that if we could get free , they could use our assistance at the Pentagon.  However at about the same time ,we received word that there was another jet headed to DC and it might divert to the Quantico Marine Corps base if it could not make its target in DC ( probably The Capitol Building ).

Because of our proximity to the Base, parents in fear of what might happen, were arriving to pick up their children . There was an atmosphere of intense anxiety and fear among all. Consequently I decided to stay at the parish to be with folks here rather than drive to the Pentagon. The roads around the base also became gridlocked so I probably would not have been able to get out of this area in a timely manner, anyway.

My memory of that day also brings with it a “What if “ ? moment. I was scheduled to be at a meeting at our friary on 31st street in midtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11 . I received word the day before that the meeting was postponed by a day. But everything changed.

Fr Mychal Judge , the first official causality of 9/11 and I were friends. He told me that he was considering retiring from the New York City Fire Department.( FDNY ) as a Chaplain. He wanted me to take his place as he knew I was a trained New York State firefighter and Fire Rescue Chaplain here in Virginia. e had said some time before that if I were ever in the city and he got a Fire Department call , he would invite me to go with him

If my meeting had not been postponed by a day I most likely would have been with Fr Mychal at breakfast when he was called to the World Trade Center. I would also most likely have been with him at the World Trade Center that morning. And so to this day when I think back to 9/11 , 2011. I think, “What if ?”

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