Some days are forever engraved in our memories. Some events just stick. We can recount them in such detail it feels as if the flashes of memory are unfolding in real time – again and again and again.
There are some days in collective history that work the same way. For earlier generations, it might be the day the stock market crashed in 1929 or the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the afternoon President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
For this generation, it is September 11, 2001. The date, “9/11,” stands on its own without further need for explanation of what happened that day. We each have a story (or stories) about the moment we first learned of the tragic events unfolding in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.
Eighteen years later – and we haven’t forgotten. We still remember. We should remember.
We should remember the heroes who gave their lives climbing stairs to help others as they surely knew they’d likely not descend those stairs again.
We should remember families who waited in agony to learn the fate of their loved ones with over 3,000 enduring the ultimate loss.
We should remember the passengers of Flight 93 and their battle cry, “Let’s Roll!”
We should remember the mom and pop shops who fed first responders.
We should remember the strangers who comforted one another in the streets without regard for racial, economic, religious or other societal identities that tend to divide.
We should always remember. This collective coming together to commemorate a tragic day in our history does not empower the enemy. Just the opposite. It empowers us.
It empowers us to heal.
It empowers us to connect to precious memories of loved ones and heroes.
It empowers us to unite against evil by elevating the resilience of the spirit.
Today, we remember.
Dear Father, thank you for shining hope into hopeless situations. Thank you for strengthening our spirits to a point that we truly love like You. What other power sends firefighters up burning stairs? What other power sends strangers to the aid of strangers? What other power emboldens a group of airline passengers to storm a cockpit? Bless each and every person whose life is still touched by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We pray this through the name of you son, Jesus Christ – Amen!
Footnote: If you’ve never visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, it is worth the trip. Bring tissues. There is a show on Broadway (and currently touring) –Come From Away. If you get a chance to see it, bring tissues. It is an amazing celebration of the human spirit in a time of tragedy. If you can’t make the show, check out the book that inspired it, The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede. Bring tissues.