Keith and Scott Coleman worked together at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. When it was clear that they would not be found alive in the ravenous rubble, I talked with their brother Todd, at whose wedding I co-officiated last October.
We were discussing his concern for his parents, and how they were handling their terrible loss. I said, “What about you, Todd? How are you dealing with it?”
“I grew up in this church,” he said, as if that should be sufficient. He could see I wanted him to explain, so he continued, holding his hand on his heart, “My brothers are right here, and they will always be with me.”
When he spoke at the memorial service last Saturday he said, among other sensitive and sensible things, “I wish I could have spent more time with Scott and Keith, I am sorry for the missed opportunities and feelings unsaid. I don’t think my brothers knew how much I loved them or how proud I was of them because I never told them. It is one of the sentiments I wish I had been able to share with them. I will try to live my life in a manner that will be worthy of their respect and admiration and their memory reminds me that the world can be a wonderful place.”
With their parents, Neil and Jean, and their brother Todd, we mourn the loss of Keith and Scott Coleman. We are a people in mourning. Christopher Shays, who, with his wife, was in attendance at the Coleman memorial, provided two flags in honor of Keith and Scott, which were hung in the sanctuary on Saturday night, and which we purposely displayed on Sunday morning.
Those flags were, and will remain, a reminder of our loss, and a reminder of our nation. We must not allow the terrorists to steal our flag. We must not allow the terrorists to defile the faith Todd so eloquently expressed-faith in people, and faith that the world can be a wonderful place.
We must not allow the fanatical terrorists to break into our hearts and replace the natural compassion that is the essence of our faith to be killed by germs of hatred. Anyone who has been paying attention for the last forty years, as I have, is aware that agents of our country have done some pretty terrible things. You don’t have to dig too deep to see them; and see them you should.
But we must not give up on this nation because of the flaws. Yes, we are flawed. But we are a great nation. Lincoln reminds us that this nation was ‘conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal.’ Now we are testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure! We are on a strange new battlefield, but we will work together for the same reasons Lincoln expressed so eloquently at Gettysburg.
The World Trade Center holds the earthly remains of two beloved young men of this congregation. Those sacred remains will be removed from Manhattan, but the memory of Keith and Scott will not be moved. Precious memories sink into the depth of our souls, a treasured storehouse of loved ones who remind us to live our lives with love and compassion.
Todd’s sensitive statement will remind us to express our love now-not to defer or neglect it, for we may not pass this way again.
Take the time to tell them you love them. Do it now. Such expressions of love cleanse the soul, renew the spirit, create caring relationships, build families and communities characterized by a deep faith that the world can be a wonderful place.
Every expression of love is like a little shovel that helps us dig a deeper well from which living waters can be drawn. May we keep digging together so we can be nourished in all the days ahead.