I awoke early in the morning and began my customary routine of preparing for work. Just before heading out the door I turned on the news to check the weather and traffic. Instead I heard the panicked voices of news anchors discussing a massive fire in one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. They showed footage of an airliner crashing into it. What? Seriously? I was riveted. Praying. But I did not yet comprehend the enormity of what was underway. I knew something awful had happened. I did not recognize it had been intentional, an act of terrorism. That realization sank in several minutes later as the story unfolded on the screen.
I drove to work in a fog. None of us did much work that day. We stared at our small 13 inch tv screen. No customers. Just a singular fixation on the narrative which revealed itself throughout the morning. First, the twin towers. Then the attack on the Pentagon. And later, news broke about Flight 93 crashing in the fields of Pennsylvania.
My heart cried out for everyone affected by these terrorist attacks. I prayed incessantly that day and in the days to come.
As I have noted in previous posts about 9/11, a week later I sat in my very first Doctor of Ministry intensive. We discussed the events which had just occurred. I stated to the class that 9/11 would forever change our culture in fundamental ways. An older student, a senior pastor of his own church, waved me off and said we would all forget about it within weeks. I pointed my finger at him and told him to mark my words, we would never forget; that it would alter our way of life. He shrugged. The class continued its discussion.
And now here we are eleven years later in a culture fundamentally changed by the impact of 9/11 and the consequences of our responses to those events. Over ten years of war. Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin laden finally dead, along with a majority of Al Quaeda’s other commanders. Loss of many freedoms on American soil. Video and audio surveillance an ubiquitous part of daily living, with citizens no longer questioning it.
My point in this post is not political, but commemorative.
Let us never forget the victims of 9/11. The inhabitants of the twin towers, the Pentagon, or the passengers on Flight 93. May we always remember the men and women in uniform who gave their lives to save others on that dreadful day. We should pay special tribute to the civilian passengers of Flight 93 who bravely sacrificed themselves to prevent further bloodshed on the ground. And may we honor the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight for liberty and freedom around the world.
9/11 is the Pearl Harbor of my generation. May we rise up to demonstrate the quality of our forbears, setting an example for generations to come. The months and years ahead will give us that opportunity.