Where were you on the fateful day 16 years ago? I was in my 3rd grade classroom. I specifically remember our principal’s voice, not as happy as he usually sounded when making announcements, telling our teachers to turn on their radios only, not their televisions.
I thought that was odd. I was even more taken back by my teacher looking like she was about to cry. What was happening? Why was she so sad? But it wasn’t just my teacher. That day, the teachers and other “older” people in the school weren’t as happy-go-lucky as they usually were.
I wondered why my classmates’ parents were checking them out from school early. It was a sunny day. There was no chance for a tornado and certainly no chance for snow. What was happening?
It was a Wednesday, and I couldn’t wait for AWANA that night at church. I had memorized my Bible verses and was especially looking forward to game time, where my peers and I were practicing for the “AWANA Olympics.”
But none of that happened. We got home that night and my mom said that AWANA had been cancelled. She turned on the TV and just stood there watching. That is when I first remember seeing a plane crash into a building.
My 9-year-old brain didn’t realize that what I saw was, in fact, real. I was frustrated. Frustrated with everyone for acting so weird all day and frustrated that even church was cancelled. How could they? Little did I know that I would be asking the same question, “How could they?” once I finally understood what happened, but this question would be directed towards the men who flew the planes.
My brother was in the Army, stationed in Germany at the time.
I didn’t know that this would spark a war and eventually lead to him being deployed to the Middle East years later.
I didn’t know that thousands of American lives would be lost that day in New York, Pennsylvania and in Washington D.C.
I didn’t know that this act of terrorism would change the United States of America, land that I love, forever.
But now, as I look back on the event as an adult, I see that this act of terrorism started what is a long line of grief, resentment, hatred and fear.
Sixteen years after September 11, 2001, our country and its people still see the effects of an attack on our people. It has been 16 years since husbands and wives felt the warm embrace of their spouse. It has been 16 years since children waved goodbye to their parents at the school drop-offs. It has been 16 years since employees of the World Trade Centers poured their morning coffee and began their work day.
Sixteen years ago, what families, friends, spouses, children and Americans across our great country once knew as “normal” changed forever.
What have we done in the meantime to recover from such loss and tragedy? Have we responded how the Lord would have us respond? Have we been prejudice towards a group of people because of the actions of a few? These are the questions that entered my mind this morning.
Almost simultaneously, however, the Lord put Psalm 34:18 on my heart, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”
Then my boss cited the verse, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” – Psalm 46:1
Then finally the third chapter Ecclesiastes came to mind where Solomon discusses how there is a time for everything, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
This goes for all of God’s creation. I weep for those who lost their lives on this day 16 years ago. I mourn for the sorrow their families have experienced.
As we remember the lives lost, as Christians and members of the human race, let’s strive to run in the opposite direction of hate and all of the evil in the world. Bring about the tides of change and love your neighbors. Put an end to prejudice and remove malice from our hearts. Only once we’ve done these things, can we begin to win our fellow man and woman for Christ.