On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered the greatest terrorist attack ever on American soil, with almost 4,000 dead. As I wrote on the tenth anniversary of that attack (see "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"), loss of life on that scale has, thankfully, not been repeated every day in the years since September 11. Yet over the course of those ten years, an even larger number of American servicemen and women died in Iraq, fighting a war that was (at best) only tangentially related to the events of September 11, and which had been condemned, repeatedly, by the last two popes. And the casualties among civilian Iraqi men, women, and children topped 100,000.
"It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins" (2 Maccabees, 12:46). Today, as we remember those who died on September 11, 2001, and those who lost their lives in the subsequent wars, let us pray for the repose of their souls.