Remember the sunshine.
Remember the smell of the morning air.
Remember the hope of that bright autumn day.
“It kept getting worse.” (NY Times 9/12/01)
No other words describe that morning better. On that day my wife, Karen, and I were living in Brooklyn, NY about one mile from the World Trade Center; we had a clear view of it every day. We had just dropped off our daughter for her first full day of kindergarten when we heard the explosion and saw the gash in the first building… and then the second. Within minutes the papers and dust were already falling onto our street.
As we move further in time away from those events it becomes all the more important that we remember the experiences of that day and the days that followed. These memories should serve not as an anchor that ties us to our past but as a milepost on our journey. Memories give us perspective on our past so we can move forward to our future.
As we have moved forward we share these memories of that day with you:
We remember the sight of the flaming buildings, the smell of the smoke hanging in the air, the taste of ashes floating down like snow, the unique unforgettable sound as the buildings began to fall, the feel of the ground shaking beneath our feet as the buildings came to rest.
We remember the outpouring of care, love, and support among people towards one another and the coming together of the community regardless of ethnic background or social standing. (Not a common occurrence in a city of eight million people.) This selflessness reaffirmed for us that, what some might call the human spirit, is really God’s holiness that exists within all of us. We were created in His image and as a result embody this spirit.
We remember that on that day Satan was certainly at work, but the Lord was working even harder. While certainly tragic that 3000 lives were lost, the total loss of life could have been ten to fifteen times greater. On any given day there would be 50,000 or more people working in the two buildings. On that day there were far fewer present at the time of the attacks because it was the first day of school in the region. Therefore the usual delays that the first day of school brings caused several thousands of people to arrive late.
We remember that at the exact moment the first tower fell we were overcome with the purest sense of peace. This peace assured us that regardless of what was about to happen, everything was going to be all right. If this was the end of our time on this earth we knew the Lord was walking with our family and was taking care of us.
It is a peace that only Christ can give. He speaks about it in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
We remember to respect, honor, and love those who have lost their lives and those who put their lives at risk every day in defense and support of our freedoms. Politics aside, these are people willing to lay down their lives for freedom.
We remember to respect, honor, and love those who serve our communities to keep us safe and rescue us from harmful situations. When everyone is running out of a burning and collapsing building, these are the people running in.
We remember to respect, honor, and love our family. When all of the “things” we surround ourselves with are gone, all that remains are those who are closest to us.
We remember that Christ is the one who was willing to and did give up his life for our spiritual freedom; that his Spirit rushes in to battle for us when we are overwhelmed; and that he did all of this because we are family and his father, our God, wants us all to have the opportunity to be united again in heaven.
As we move three years and on from that milepost we understand that we have an obligation to remember September 11th. We must remember so that we can honor those who were lost. We must remember so that we can honor those who were saved. We must remember so that we can take everything we learned that day and grow. We must remember because we can.
The event only stands as a mere occurrence if we don’t take something away from it that can move us forward.
In closing we share with you this prayer:
Heavenly Father we thank you for blessing us and keeping us.
We thank you for making your face to shine upon us.
We thank you for being gracious to us.
We thank you for turning your countenance toward us.
We thank you for giving us peace.