It is hard to believe that this tragedy occurred thirteen years ago.
That means the students in seventh grade this year were not born until after this event.
So many things happened in 2001 and while there are timelines and websites listing all the many global events, they all pale in comparison to the one event that cemented this date in United States history to forever to be known simply as 9/11.
On this day, as many of us were just working through another weekday, we were shaken in an instant and as the day wore on, the tragic reality that our nation was under attack by overt terrorist action.
Two planes crashed into and ultimately destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
One plane crashed into the Pentagon.
One plane was diverted due to a group effort by passengers, from an imminent attack on the nation's capital and crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
This day of tragedy united our nation in a way unseen for decades.
Unfortunately, it seems that the unity was fleeting as Americans consistently poll as being more divided than ever.
May today be a day of remembrance for us as Americans. May we remember how others throughout the world came to our support and grieved with us. May we remember as followers of Christ, how God renewed our strength and comforted us in our grief.
May we remember those directly involved in the story.
Images of heroes, those in the planes, those in the Trade Center and Pentagon and especially those who willingly went into soon to be destroyed buildings and dangerous areas in order to help and rescuse others come to mind.
And this is good.
It is good to remember.
In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were instructed by God to set up special feasts and memorials to remind them of His provision and rescue during difficult days. However, it seems that over time, the moments of remembrance became routine for many. . .if not totally forgotten.
To know 9/11 apart from remembering (even remembering vicariously through reading accounts of others) the events of this day and the events leading up to it can be tragic. To know things, but not really understand leads to the potential of repeating history.
May we remember.
May we always remember.
May we always be resolute.
May we never have another 9/11 type day.
I remember that shortly after 9/11, as the nation unified, flags unfurled in record numbers, police, firefighters and public servants were acknowledged and thanked for their service. All the sudden, we were not taking for granted the day. We were treasuring our time with our children and families. We were intentionally celebrating our freedoms by packing churches, worshipping together, enjoying picnics, baseball games (the World Series!) and resolutely declaring that our freedoms that offended some in the world, would remain.
We resolved to "Never Forget!"
Those who died that day have been memorialized, rightly so, and each American should know the intrinsic value of a life.
So, on this day, on this September 11, let us remember. Let us remember with more than a flippant acknowledgement of an event, but let us remember how when life seems to be routine, there is always a bigger story. Let us remember that life matters. Let us remember that evil exists, but God reigns and is never startled.
Where was God on September 11, 2001?
The answer is simple, but truly deep. God was in the same place He has always been and is today. He is not unloving. He is not disconnected. He is, and always has been and will be, totally engaged and in control.
May He reign in our hearts as Lord and in our collective grief and remembrance, give us peace.
May He especially be experienced today in the lives of family members and survivors from those connected personally to 9/11.
Thank you again to all police officers and firefighters who serve in large cities, suburbs and rural areas. May we never take you and your service for granted.