Today marks the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon here in Washington, DC, and the plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed in the attacks – more than 400 were police officers, firefighters and first aiders. September 11th marks the deadliest foreign attack on United States soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
Most of us can remember exactly where we were when the first plane hit the Twin Towers. Some of us have vivid and personal memories of family or friends who were affected by the attacks – particularly the attack on the Pentagon.
But what do we remember of that day 19 years away? What are the things that still stand out and grab our attention almost two decades later?
One thing that strikes me is how our churches – across the country – have come together. Since we know little about the organization or the people who are behind the attacks, we have come together to take care of one another, support one another and face insecurity together. On September 11th, we learned the meaning of the word indivisible. Perhaps it is important now that we remember that it was only on September 11th that we knew what it means as a country to come together and face things that could divide or destroy us.
I hope we will never forget the brave behavior of the first responders – those who went into the Towers to try to help when everyone else was out. And the desperate bravery of the passengers who stormed the cockpit and crashed the plane in Pennsylvania to prevent major loss of life in DC, or the paramedics and military personnel who tended to the wounded at the Pentagon. Let us never forget the sacrifice of all those brave souls who reacted so selflessly to the chaos and destruction as the details of the catastrophe fade into our memories.
Another thing that should always make us stand out from the attacks is the unique message left by those who were supposed to perish in the fall of the Towers. Again and again, when faced with certain death, they all wanted to send messages of love to their families and to those who were important to them. The most common last words were “I love you”. In the face of death, love was still the winner. Let’s never forget that.
With September 11, 2001 becoming a distant memory, history is still being made every day – by all of us. By the way, we live our lives. By the way, we behave in difficult times. By being willing to put the needs of others before our own. How well we love each other.
9/11 is forever engraved on our history. But how we react to its effects is still being written 19 years later. Now it’s our story to be made.
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