September 11, 1998

Funeral services were held in Zurich, as well as New York and Geneva. In Zurich, the victims' families and friends congregated at St. Peter's, and there were facilities set up outside and elsewhere for the public, connected via a live broadcast. Swissair employees followed/participated in the service from one of their hangars.

The people in the church were united by the grief of their losses. Standing outside the church, I felt very removed from the loosely-gathered group of strangers there. It was like no one really knew why anyone else was there, and each person was closed off in own their misery. I felt so sad and alone that I wasn't even capable of reaching out a hand to anyone else.

During these ceremonies, representatives from Swissair (SAirGroup), local and national government, and Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths spoke, read (Psalm 142 was very appropriate), chanted and sang. Then all the mourners were gifted with long-stem white roses. They must have distributed 3000 of them at St. Peter's and Swissair alone. The speaker said it was for a symbol of hope, but that the beauty of the white rose isn't to be seen on the outside. Only with unfolding is the secret in the core revealed.

Two women in Swissair uniforms came out of the church carrying a huge basket of white roses between them, and distributed them to the crowd outside. When the woman handed one to me, she gave me comfort with her eyes and expression - she extended, not only the rose, but the human contact and understanding that I needed then. "The light of the body is the eye . . . " - Matthew 6:22.

Walking back through the city at 5 p.m., it began to become apparent that many people had listened to the radio broadcast of the service. People would see the white rose, and look away, as if they didn't want to intrude, or just didn't want to face it. Or they would make o's with their mouths, then whisper to their companions, "swissairswissairswissair. . . " Crossing the main train station, eyes downcast to avoid contact with the masses of casually-curious people, I glanced upon another white rose. I looked up and met the eyes of a young blond woman in a Swissair uniform. We gave each other a wordless sympathetic smile. It was a soft light on a gray and dismal day -- a glimpse through the window of the soul into the comforting human core.

"And the very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away."
Isaiah 35:10 - (NWT)


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One year later

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