Every middle aged person knows what this post is about just by reading the title. And if for some reason you don’t remember or weren’t around back then, it was 18 years ago yesterday that we were attacked on our own soil by a band of terrorists who crashed four jets into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a foiled plan to hit either the White House or the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Instead, the fourth jet barreled into the earth in a field, the terrorists having been rushed by people on the plane in a final act of bravery before losing their lives in the crash.
Almost everyone who was alive at the time remembers where they were that fateful morning. My ministry friends and I had just finished holding a career transition meeting for folks who were out of work; looking for encouragement and assistance in their job search efforts. We were finished for the morning and suddenly the televisions were filled with images of first responders, victims and debris flying through the air as the towers fell. It still seems like yesterday that all this happened and each year the networks play video in real time matching the timeline on the day of the tragedy.
Yesterday, the internet, Facebook and other social media platforms were filled with memories and images of 9-11-01. And it was brought to my attention that people born on that day attained voting age yesterday – 18 years after the attack. That seems impossible to believe. But with the intervening years between 9-11-01 and today, we are all worried about forgetting the details of that day. The country is determined to never forget and it is each of our responsibilities to make sure that the past remains a part of our conscious memory.
I am surprised at how emotional I feel each anniversary when I re-live that morning. I have a tremendous sense of pride when I see President Bush addressing the first responders on the pile of rubble – or throwing out the first pitch at a Yankee’s baseball game. It’s also gratifying to see how the entire country pulled together and we were united as one people – swelling up with pride in the midst of one of the country’s darkest hours. But that’s how we roll! Like a big family, when the chips are down, we set aside our differences and unite.
Recently, during the last several years at least, the country has been divided like never before. Currently, the thought of uniting against a common enemy is difficult to imagine but I continue to have hope that we have not lost those traits and characteristics that made America great in the first place.
Had we not been united, we could not have prevailed in the Revolutionary War or the other conflicts that we have fought. And even though the War Between the States, better known as the Civil War, tested our mettle by pitting brother against brother and father against son, we eventually resolved our differences and continued to lead the world in areas of manufacturing and innovation, among other disciplines.
We are a resilient people. But part of that is hanging on to our history and remembering our past. Even the Bible admonishes us to remember the past. In fact, Moses, the author of Deuteronomy reminds us in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
My encouragement this evening is that the future can learn from the past. It is important that we don’t let the past lapse into the shadows. My prayer is that we will heed the Bible’s advice and never forget the things we have seen and that we will pass this sense of history on to our children and the generations after them. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…