Today on the old calendar is the commemoration of the beheading of Saint John the Forerunner (Saint John the Baptist) by Herod Antipas’ wicked men.
It is a fast day rather than a feast, and the somber mood fits the calendar day for Americans as we also remember the lives of those who died eight years ago in the barbarian attacks against our land. It is curious how a perverse sense of lust played a part both in John’s execution by Herod Antipas and in the suicide missions of the infidel Mohammedans.
I doubt that many non-Orthodox people know that the only religious building to be destroyed in the attacks was the small Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church next to the World Trade Center, which was crushed by the falling towers. My brothers and I had visited the parish one year before the attack as we toured New York. We spent a considerable amount of time in the World Trade Center that particular day. We wanted to see the city from the top of one of the towers during the day and at night. So, we passed several hours at the top, enjoying the spectacle of New York City from its southern peak as the sun set on the West. I remember our wondering what would happen if the buildings ever collapsed. We theorized that Wall Street in its entirety would disappear, so massive were the Twin Towers. We were wrong, but we never knew what horror would occur just twelve months later.
When I have revisited the site since the attacks, I still think back to our time nine years ago. I dwell on Fritz Koenig’s Sphere. The globe shaped fountain once stood neatly in the plaza surrounded by New York’s wealth. Now, the deformed and maimed structure stands in Battery Park, a testament both to the awful destruction and to the perseverance of New Yorkers.