9/11 Terror Attacks United People Regardless of Religious Affiliation, New York Priest Says
06:15 GMT 10.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
WASHINGTON, September 10 (Sputnik) - The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 resulted in the death of some 3,000 people, but they also caused the people to unite in their faith against evil regardless of religious affiliation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Vicar General Alex Karloutsos, who witnessed the attacks, told Sputnik.
On 11 September 2001, al-Qaeda* terrorists crashed two hijacked commercial airplanes in the World Trade Center in New York and another in the Pentagon near Washington, DC. A fourth hijacked airplane crashed in the ground in the state of Pennsylvania without reaching its presumed target.
Karloutsos said in the morning of 11 September he was trying to get to work but was unable to reach the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Manhattan despite being located not very close to the World Trade Center.
“The traffic was stopped, so I returned to my church and called for a prayer service. It was like Pascha, people were experiencing the Holy Friday,” he said.
Karloutsos explained the believers were in pain after the terrorist attacks and needed spiritual support. Gathering together, he said, they offered prayers of hope in order to overcome the fear and grief.
“We knew that we had to come up with great love in relationship to God’s presence in our lives,” Karloutsos said.
As chaplain of the New York Port Authority and the New Jersey police, Karloutsos said he was called in that night to provide spiritual support to those affected by the terrorist attacks.
“I drove down by the World Trade Center. It was like Hell, it was horrible, like a Godzilla movie,” he said.
The next morning, 12 September, Karloustos said he picked-up then-Archbishop Demetrios as he could not get into the city without a special permission that the Archbishop had.
“Whenever we walked forward, we had people bowing down before the Archbishop asking for a blessing, no matter what their faith was,” he said.
© REUTERS / Department of Defense FBI agents, fire fighters, rescue workers and engineers work at the Pentagon crash site in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2001
FBI agents, fire fighters, rescue workers and engineers work at the Pentagon crash site in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2001
© REUTERS / Department of Defense
Karloutsos described Manhattan as being chaotic, covered in dust and remains of destroyed buildings as well as remains of human victims as well.
“I continuously vaporized and wiped away the white dust, which was a mix of building structures and flesh. It was very emotional,” he said.
The small St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan was completely destroyed when one of skyscrapers collapsed after the attacks, Karloutsos said, adding that it was a miracle that nobody died there amid the numerous deaths elsewhere.
Karloutsos also recalled that the church’s rector and one other person left the church just minutes before it collapsed.
“I just believe that we were blessed that we did not loose any lives, and we were greatly pained that we lost our church,” he said.
The view of the demolished church with a part of an airplane wing on the top of the brash was terrific, Karloutsos said.
“We looked around - there was nothing,” he also said.
Karloutsos noted that the Greek Orthodox community, along with the US authorities and other supporters, has rebuilt the church after 20 years.
“Now we are blessed that we are going to be able to rebuild our church, which will become for all people,” he said.
The first memorial service in the new cathedral, which became a National Shrine, will take place on 10 September . The following day, the structure will be lit in blue along with other buildings in the area to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks, Karloutsos added.
* A terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.