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In the shadow of 9/11, a chapel carries on
A New York Fire Department uniform is on display at St. Paul's Chapel in New York.
May 6th, 2011
11:23 AM ET

In the shadow of 9/11, a chapel carries on

By Padmananda Rama, CNN

New York (CNN) - As President Obama visited Ground Zero Thursday, the church that served as a home for volunteers and first responders on 9/11 was filled with memories of that day.

“I do remember when 9/11 happened,” said 17-year-old Rebekah Ritter, who was visiting St. Paul’s Chapel with a youth choir from Pennsylvania.

“I was only in second grade. I just find it amazing that this church is still here. And I just love the fact, coming in here looking at a miracle, that it’s still here and seeing how it’s helped so many people.”

The stone chapel, erected in the late 1700s, stands just across the street from the site of the World Trade Center. In the days following 9/11, the church was quickly transformed into a staging area for volunteers who helped first responders and families searching for loved ones. Photos of the missing were posted along the church’s gates.

This week, the chapel once again served as a place to reflect on recent events. In the hours following news of Osama bin Laden’s death, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who rushed to Lower Manhattan following the attacks, returned to St. Paul’s.

“It was great to see him on this occasion. It seemed a natural place to be,” said the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, the chapel’s rector.

On Thursday, as the president stopped across the street and met privately with families who lost loved ones on 9/11, members of the choir from Tioga County, Pennsylvania, were inside the church singing hymns on the theme of home.

As they sang for nearly an hour, visitors streamed into the chapel, some lighting candles, others stopping to offer prayers. Tourists stopped to view the memorials and images along the church walls of victims of the 9/11 attacks.

“I think we knew the songs we were going to sing here needed to reflect in some way just the all that happened here, all the sacrifice that happened,” said choir director Thomas Putnam.

The youth choir from Tioga County in north-central Pennsylvania performs at St. Paul's on Thursday.

The choir, which regularly travels to perform at churches across the country, planned its stop at St. Paul’s months before the president’s decision to visit New York. Yet this week, in the days following news of bin Laden’s death, members of the choir did not miss the significance.

“I kept thinking how we were coming here and how we were going to the place where [bin Laden] caused the most damage,” said 13-year-old Jacob Ritter. “I think it’s more than a coincidence.”

Putnam and other choir members said the stanzas of their final song, “We Will Be a Shelter for Each Other,” held the most significance:

Love can build a house that stands forever,
Stronger than a wall of steel or stone.
We will be a shelter for each other in the storm,
And when we come together, we'll be home.

“This place is a monument to that [message],” said Rebekah Ritter. “When the twin towers came down, it was a shelter for all those people. It was a very fitting song for what happened and for remembering now, 10 years later.”

One of the youngest members of the choir, 10-year-old Aidan Putnam, reflected on the question, “What does home mean to you?”

After pausing for a response, he decided, “Home is a place where you are safe.”

Before leaving the chapel, Ritter added, “There has to be a reason it’s still standing.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Barack Obama • Church • Death • Houses of worship • New York • Osama bin Laden

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soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Adelina

    @PraiseTheL-, no, I mean their honesty, dignity, self-discipline, humaneness, wisdom and intelligence. Christian Americans are the best species on Planet Earth. Secular Americans don't remember anything because history is not their thing.

    May 9, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • brizinger

      Why do we have to differentiate between American, Italian, French, Portugese etc Christians? Are we not from one body – the body of Christ. And is all the virtues you name not for all? Just asking? I am not American, but history is my thing.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  2. Bolly34

    I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, BidsJump.com

    May 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  3. Adelina

    Likewise, the American Christianity will stand forever. It is handed down to many others already...

    May 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Adelina wrote: " American Christianity will stand forever. It is handed down to many others already..."

      I'm afraid that may be true, as stupidity, unfortunately, has no limitations...

      May 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  4. christopher witt diamant

    Osama bin Laden was the Antichrist; the Masih ad-Dajjal or the false Mahdi os Islam; and as the Judas of islam he caused the House of Mecca to fall just as Mohammed said: not one stone upon another spiritually because Osama judged America as if he were God and then carried out this judgment: as was written of him at II Thessalonians 2:2-4; the "falling away" happened in Islam as they left their position. The Last Day has arrived: and now I have to tell Islam the News: Who am I? Look up Sura 27 verse 82 of the Qur'an: the Ant; who was Solomon; the ant whom God destroyed by givine him wings: but now I am the Dabbat al-ard; the shadow of Jedidiah; back from the dead; the beast of the earth: the lost sheep of the house of Israel: the Prodigal Son himself...

    May 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  5. brizinger

    W247 – if the media phony why do you blog? Does it mean that you see yourself as phony? Even if you take only cold comfort from it, it means that you choose to be controlled by it over being alone with no one to respond to. But responding to it may mean that you do search for hope. Search on, you might be surprized at what you may find. Hope always endures.

    May 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  6. brizinger

    Mark from Middle River – ok so if I dare to post I dare to project? Isn't that what blogging is about? So if in your reply, the holder of a philosophy is projecting his/her thoughts and the group disagree with that thoughts, it is wrong to blog about it? Or is it wrong to have the thoughts? Or is it wrong to disagree with those thoughts? I am at loss and look forward to a really long reality rant.....

    May 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ok, I am at a loss now because you have just said what I said.

      You : Isn't that what blogging is about?
      Me1:.. isnt this why folks post here..
      Me2: So when Teddy said that those of faith were "projecting", to me that was funny because that was what everyone that dares to post does.

      Also, as a further knock upon your nogin'. In W247, you do realize that he is not, unless he is a news reporter posting without giving his credentials, a part of the Media. For the most part I agree with his view of the media. How many happy stories do you ever hear "lead" a news segment. The happy news, unless its something like last weekend... is normally in the back. I need you t take a bit of time and just tune up CNN, FoxNews or MsNBC. Every commrcial break its ..."stay tunned... if you don't some group is going to kill you or take away you and your kids right to exisit." It is control as much as many things in this world. Now personally I think thats why so many folks in media dislike organized religion, because you are not tuning in Anderson Cooper, Bret Baier or that Wallace guy on MSNBC to be told what to do or how to think. The Media hates that because we are supposed to have total trust in them and no one else.

      Theother day I am listening to NPR and they are bemoaning the dying of the newspaper press. The speaker was crying that the fault was that now people do not get told how to think from a single or dual printed press. The fault was that folks were going to media outlets that hold views that they hold and will tell the news with the slant that they already agreed with.

      In the end FoxNews, CNN and MsNBC are not much different than divisions in the Faiths. Each reporting but with their own slant and dislike any one that says different.

      Truthfully I do not know how this story will end...but its going to be a wild ride.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Mark – I enjoy pointing out your ignorance. In this case, it is in understanding the usage of the word "projecting".
      "Measuring my corn in your own half bushel and cheating yourself and me at the same time" might be another way of getting Ted M's point across.
      Please look it up. You are equating opinion with mis-attributing things to people. They are not equivalent.
      With that said, I agree with some of your opinions about the media.

      May 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "I enjoy pointing out your ignorance. In this case, it is in understanding the usage of the word projecting"."

      Rogue – I do believe that it is you, who is unaware of the usage. It is easy, and do not worry... even a elementary student will be able to follow. 🙂 When someone says that another is projecting their views on them it just means simply that they are offering up vocally or in text form their opinions. In this case it was used in a negative way and if you go back and read my post you will see that everyone here does it in the same way. The issue was that the atheist declares that those of Faith are "projecting" their views on society. The funny thing is that you hear the same thing over at FoxNews MsNBC and even here at CNN when it comes to gay rights, gun rights, environment, and even down to happy meals in California. The key Rouge, and I feel that you understand this, it gets stupid when try to shame or downplay folks who do not believe the same as we do.

      In simple words my friend. If you and myself walk upon a group listening to a speaker that only one of us agrees with. One of us will smile and say ... "this woman or man is educating people to the truth." The other will say,.... "How dare she or he project such views to confuse people"

      Its all word usage and the pre-determined opinion of the speaker.

      Thanks for writing. Peace

      May 8, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  7. brizinger

    Touch not my junk – I fail to see the reason for the rude reply. But yes I have a place that I am able to accomodate my God – its called my soul. To put God in other places might not fill the hole that is called lonely.

    May 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  8. brizinger

    Mark from Middle River – please elaborate as I fail to understand your reply.

    May 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ok, I am studying for a final exam so I can't go on one of my Reality long rants.

      I will explain it as the post that I commented on questioned and/or stated that we of Faith project our views on those who are not of Faith. My responce is that such is what this blog is for. It is one of those things that depends on the point of view. For some the expression of views in a open forum is called "educating" those that are ignorant of the truth that the person expressing hold as truth. To those that disagree it is not seen as educating it is seen formally as an attempt to indoctrinate or confuse the weak minded listening.

      So when Teddy said that those of faith were "projecting", to me that was funny because that was what everyone that dares to post does. This is a good thing I feel but to declare that when a group that disagrees with a holders philosophy is not sharing his or her thoughts and is only projecting..., that is wrong.

      May 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  9. brizinger

    Ted M – you claim to be sane, but have you read your reply? I am at loss to find your meaning? What do I need to see? I did see loss of life and love in what happend on Sept 11th. I did see horror and fire and dust and shock and panick. I fear that I cannot see the reason – if I am blind lead me. My desire is for you to be free. Nobody can make you feel lonely,desolated or afraid unless you let them. Being without God is all that. So you clame to be sane, and you claim it to be good to be sane..... Maybe I am not the one needing help.....

    May 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  10. brizinger

    Evolved DNA you have a point about the emotions being human – and I agree that all humans can have them – even without a belief structure. It is only that being human means that you are not transended yet, therefore your soul has not being filled to capacity of what it's able .... eternal life. It is awesome that you are not lonely or fearful or at times loathing. How do you do it? If you care to explore you might be surprized to find that there could be more to life than mere human emotion.

    May 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Hi Berzinger..I have always been a happy person, and find laughter and humor an important part of my life. I do not take life that seriously, and although I am an atheist, I can see how for some people having" a god" to lean on could be an important mental aid.
      I have been married for 35 years and have two su-ccessful boys both of whom are pilots. I am very content, and I imagine that for some people who have the same feelings they may interpret that as coming from god. I feel no need for that supernatural interpretation . I travel a lot for my job and meet many people and we are all the same...When i meet some one I treat them with respect, I have no idea as to their religious convictions..maybe not a good word around a catholic! .nor do i care.. they are human beings first in my book.. thats it really.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  11. brizinger

    How is it possible that pain and suffering can not move some people to experience compassion? Does it mean that they have no humanity? Or is that a symptom of the acute loss of soul? Can you be human without a soul? All I read in the replies above is loneliness, utter desolation, fear and loathing. How can anybody live like this? Can't you feel the yearning of your soul to be touched, loved, cherished and nutured? There is an answer and it is called Jesus.

    May 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      brizinger..being human is having compassion, it has nothing to do at all with a god or jesus. I do not believe in your god, who ever and which ever one you worship..but I have compassion and have always had it..i am not lonely or do I have fear and loathing.
      Those feelings you describe can be found in every one, regardless of any belief structure.

      May 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Touch not my junk

      If I want to be groped I'll go see a Catholic priest. Take your god and shove him up your ass.

      May 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Ted M

      How is it possible that you are blinded to what you see?
      Can't you see the evil done by your beliefs in the ridiculous?
      If you cannot see the essential compassion behind a call to reason, then you are a blind man.
      You are projecting your desires upon us.
      You want us to be lonely, desolated, and afraid.
      Otherwise you would have to admit that being without your insane god could actually be a good thing.
      It is very good to be sane. Very good indeed. Seek help from someone real.

      May 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "You are projecting your desires upon us."

      As are you on us.....funny, come to think of it... isnt this why folks post here.. to let others know their views and beliefs?

      May 6, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  12. Mark from Middle River

    Sorry Stevie, this church stood and is still standing.

    If it hurts, please reply, sometimes I get pleasure in such types of suffering. 🙂

    May 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. delano j sheffield

    Do you believe that religiously?

    http://www.holdtotruth.com

    May 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  14. stevie68a

    There was a greek church behind the World Trade Center that got destroyed, St. Nicholas, who was the patron saint of travelers. Ha ha ha ha ha. Some miracle! Religion is phony, used to control you.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • W247

      The media is phony, used to control you and bring you cold comfort and no hope.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • brizinger

      If you find if funny that one building was obliterated and another spared, my heart bleeds for you. It seems that you are not grasping what the standing building symbolizes; HOPE. And without religion there is no hope... So if you ever wonder what happens after obliteration, maybe it is time to stop laughing at life and choose to laugh WITH life, as this life is only the beginning of what can be....

      May 6, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • SupremeAmerican

      LoL fun time is now.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjW8SWuyuvs&w=640&h=390]

      May 7, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • David Sawyer

      Why don't you write back while you're crosing the River Styx

      May 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.