I wrote the following piece a year after September 11, 2001. Nothing has changed.
Lest We Forget
Turn on the television today in the United States and you’ll see what the news media has been calling “unprecedented coverage” of the memorial services, and special events covering the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon, and flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania. You will most likely see interviews of survivors from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, interviews of those who witnessed the attacks, and interviews of family members and close friends of those killed during the attacks. You will see dignitaries attending special events and services today. There will be candlelight vigils this evening and many churches will also be observing the events of September 11, 2001 with special services honoring those who perished and honoring those who gave their lives so heroically trying to save them.
These times of remembrance I suppose will be healthy for some, but difficult for others. I’ll probably watch a program or two with my family but I don’t really need them to help me feel better or remember. I’ll never forget what I saw on the news and what I felt after the attacks of September 11. I don’t want to feel better about it but I do want always to remember.
I remember where I was and what I was doing September 11, 2001. I’m sure we’ll all remember that for years to come. I was at work; in my cubicle, doing the stuff systems administrators do. I remember hearing a coworker say out loud that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. I pictured a small single engine type plane. I pulled up a couple of news web sites that were just putting up photos of the crash. I wanted to check out the damage. What I saw was a shocker; a gaping, smoking, cavernous hole in what I later learned was the north tower of the World Trade Center. Then another co-worker exclaimed, “Another plane just hit the World Trade Center.” Again, I was a bit shocked. Like most I realized we were under attack, a terrorist attack. Then we heard the news that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Then we heard the news of flight 93 crashing in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. I wondered how many more planes would come down that day.
I tried to absorb it all for several days last September. I recall watching the news when I got home on the 11th. I wanted to see it all. I was shocked, saddened and enraged thinking of the devastated families and the numerous lives lost. Going against what so many in the liberal news media were recommending I wanted my children to see the events of September 11 as they were replayed. I wanted them to see the recovery efforts being covered on the news. I didn’t want my family sheltered from the tragedy. I wanted my family to be impacted with the cruelty and hatred of those that despise the United States of America and us as Americans.
As a U.S. Marine — they say once a Marine always a Marine, so I don’t use the term “former Marine” — I have strong opinions about what ought to be done with those who would murder Americans and those that train, fund and encourage them. To say I was upset after the attacks on America on September 11 would be putting it mildly. I wanted to do something. My wife looked at me with more than a little concern a few times while shaking a fist at the television I’d say things like “Send me, I’ll go!” “What do I have to do to go active duty again?” “Send me over there I’ll take care of them.” I’ll never forget how I felt then, it’s how I feel now.
Shortly after the 11th last September I hung a flag from a pole on our house. It was something I’d been meaning to do but it took a wake-up call like the attacks on our country to light the fire in me. Soon my children were making flags and hanging them around the house. We began praying more earnestly for our country, our President and leadership and our military. These were things we could do. We realized then we would never forget September 11, 2001.
All of this introspection about the events of September 11, 2001 has me thinking about another time in history that was earth shaking; an event we will never forget. Two Thousand years ago a man named Jesus was crucified on a hill between two criminals. Hung on a cross, spikes were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. I suppose those spikes were a symbol of the intense hatred for Jesus. I think Jesus’ true followers were shocked, saddened and enraged. They probably wanted to do something about this terrible injustice carried out on an innocent man. They probably told their families not to look away but to watch and never forget.
In the days that followed the cruel death of Jesus his disciples probably replayed the events of the previous days in their heads wondering what had gone wrong. They probably wondered how this could have happened to their beloved teacher and friend? But what they had forgotten was that Jesus would return. He had told them he would rise from the dead on the third day and when they discovered that he had, they were sure to never forget and forget they did not.
After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared before his disciples and many others, his followers got on with their lives, but they did not forget. They got on with their lives with a new hope and purpose. They realized they were serving the risen Christ Jesus and their new purpose in life was to tell others about this Savior sacrificed for their sins.
Even now as we realize we will never forget September 11, 2001, and we see the indelible images on the pages of our minds and we have the memories of those who died so valiantly trying to save those who only intended to go to work and do their jobs that brilliant September morning, we must also remember the Savior who died for you and me. We must get on with our lives never forgetting, always remembering what Christ Jesus did for us some two thousand years ago through His death, burial and resurrection giving freely what none of us deserved. Through Christ we are forgiven and offered eternal life (John 3:16). Yet only if we ask forgiveness (Acts 10:43) do we become His children (John 1:12) and receive eternal life (Ephesians 2:8, 9). This we must never forget and we must never keep silent about. We must never fail to allow our children to be impacted by what our precious Savior has done for us and we must certainly never forget.