Today we remember the events of 9/11/01. I am watching a special on TV reflecting back to that day and even our pastor shifted gears and focused on the anniversary. There has been nothing else like it in my lifetime and I will always remember the emotion, the loss of life and what happened that day with absolute resolve and clarity. I understand the evil that was thrust upon us that Tuesday morning and still get teary hearing stories of bravery and loss.
I know something about grief and sorrow. I have lost both of my parents within three years of each other and all of my grandparents (the last two within the same time period as I lost my parents). I have grieved over the regret of unspoken words, not having the relationships anymore and that my kids will not know my parents and grandparents. I miss my parents and often wish that I could still speak with them and visit them.
However, I also feel like I’m at a place where I have begun to accept that they are gone and embrace the legacy they have left in my life. I strive to remember them daily and talk about them often to my kids. We have pictures of them around our house and will look at photo albums occasionally and talk about the pictures.
I do not want to take away from anyone’s pain or loss in writing this post. I am simply sharing some thoughts that I’ve had on the 10th anniversary. I have been thinking about this for a few days and sense that many people feel the same. We are not forgetting the sacrifice of the people that died and continue to die to fight terrorism. Healing and closure is not demeaning the events of that day/ time but it’s a part of being human and being healthy- individually and corporately.
10 years still feels like yesterday in many ways. I have seen some write something to the effect of “I can’t remember what I was doing last Tuesday but on 9/11 I was doing…” I remember the day, where I was- hearing that we were under attack. I remember sitting around the dinner table, praying and crying over the events of the day. Even my now 16 year old remembers vividly that day.
But, here we are 10 years later- we have killed Osama bin Laden, the wars are coming to an end, many of Al Qaeda and Taliban have been killed, we have not experienced another attack and we are rebuilding the towers. I know there’s controversy and frustration over the speed of rebuilding the towers- they originally were built in just a few years. However, we are building them and they will be a memorial to the strength, heroism and awesomeness of America.
The next major anniversary will be the 20th anniversary. That will be 2021. While that seems forever away- 2011 did to in 2001-it will be here quickly. But, this new generation coming up will know little of that day- and few will have experienced it personally. It will be a page in a history book- probably written without any mention of radical Islam or jihad. This generation coming up will be taught that America did something to invite the attacks- but I’m getting off track.
It would be realistic to say that we are healing as a nation and I see the 1oth anniversary as an act of closure for most of us. Obviously, we will never forget, we will always remember. When I visited my father’s grave a few weeks ago- I broke down in tears. It really surprised me because I haven’t cried over that loss in a while. But, just being near his grave stirred those emotions in me again. Closure does not mean closing off our emotions and never crying about it again. I know there are some who were there that day that might not ever experience closure- for most of us, though, we will move on with our lives.
I am grateful for those who gave their lives that day to try and save others. I pray for the families who lost loved ones. I am humbled by the bravery of the passengers of flight 93 (“Let’s roll” still gives me chills). I echo the fireman who said at a memorial service for his friends a few days after 9/11 to Osama bin Laden “You can kiss my royal Irish ass!”. I am proud of President Bush who said “I hear you and soon the people who did this will hear all of us!”
There have been many things we learned from that experience. We saw that we can rise above the pettiness of our materialistic, political divisions and really be one nation “under God”, indivisible. We saw people come together to help strangers. People gave blood, money and their time with no thought of what they would get in return. Churches were filled with people praying for God’s wisdom, protection and comfort- we saw there are things in this life that are beyond our understanding and self-reliance. The best of America was brought out by the worst of evil and it showed our greatness and strength.