Do you remember what you were doing 20 years ago today?
If you are in your late 20s or older, chances are you can remember many details of that day, September 11, 2001. And it is likely you will retell those stories for the rest of your life, just like our parents or grandparents would recall the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
For me, I was at my desk that morning in Myrtle Beach. I heard someone in the cubicles say something about an airplane crash in New York City. I pictured a small Cessna-type aircraft. About the same time, my wife called me with the news as she was sitting on the den floor at home, crying. I turned to my computer and tried to find some news. Evidently our 4-story building full of professionals didn’t have enough bandwidth to handle what was happening because it was difficult to get updated news. I tried the radio as well.
Eventually we had enough news to sort of understand what was happening but certainly couldn’t grasp the severity of it all.
It was an incredibly long day at work. I don’t know why we all stayed. Perhaps American stay-at-your-post stubbornness. Perhaps shock. Maybe the desire to just be around people.
Eventually I got home and the grieving process really began. We tried to hide it from our young children but that was almost impossible. Mostly, my wife and I just sat on the couch and cried as we watched the endless news cycle.
The cliché to ‘hug your loved ones a little tighter’ was never truer that night.
The next morning at work, I can remember saying to my boss “the world will never be the same”. He responded that God’s kingdom had not changed. Yes, I understood that. But I also recognized that our present world was changed forever.
Recently a pastor used the phrase that ‘God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he uses the bad for eventual good’. I’m going to hang on to that.
What is the good that you’ve recognized from this horrendous act?
For me, there was a greater sense of community and cooperation. We saw it then in our local denominations gathering together for community-wide events. And our church was packed for regular services the following Sunday. Did that feeling last for twenty years? No, of course not. But it was there once and it shows that we, as a diverse nation, can come together under a common cause.
I remember knowing an immigrant family from the Middle East through youth soccer and the fear they faced in that new age. And I recall that being a time in which my family understood what it was like to ‘love our neighbor’. Personally, that lesson has carried over for all these years. Dignity is meant for ALL.
Another positive thing that came from that event was an outpouring of support for First Responders. Our hearts went out to so many who were lost in NYC and we showered all responders with heartfelt love. I see this one carrying over to today and now including our healthcare workers as well.
Twenty years ago it was a call for us, as Americans, to set aside differences and unite as a people.
What do you say to the idea of doing that again?