Today we say goodbye to Sunset Beach. Another family vacation is in the books, more memories to hold onto, and back to real life. But it only seems appropriate to remember for you what happened 20 years ago today. It was perhaps THE most culturally defining day of my lifetime. And I have lived through a lot of defining moments – a presidential assassination, Watergate, Vietnam, a moon landing, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, etc. What happened 20 years ago today dramatically changed our country and we feel the ripple effects every. single. day.
It was a Tuesday. Sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 AM. I was in the parking lot at the Post Office down the street from my church when it was announced on the radio that a plane had crashed into the side of one of New York City’s Twin Towers. At the time it was reported as a crazy air mishap. But 30 minutes later when another plane crashed into the other Twin Tower we began to understand that this was more than accidental.
Little did we know how much more. I was meeting a friend for lunch at Elmo’s Diner in Durham when we got the news that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and another plane (Flight 93) had crashed in Pennsylvania. We would later find out that it was targeting either the White House or The US Capitol Building. I can remember saying to my friend, “What is going on?”
As the day unfolded we learned that these four planes has been hijacked by terrorists – later to be associated with the group known as al-Qaeda and masterminded by Osama bin Laden. Almost 3000 people died that day. The attacks resulted in the largest loss of life by a foreign attack on American soil.
Your parents were in middle school and high school when 911 (as it is referred to) happened. I was planning that coming weekend to raft the Gauley River in West Virginia (and its class 5 rapids) with a buddy to celebrate his 40th birthday. That did not happen as he got grounded in Toronto when air travel was shut down. Overnight the world became a scarier place to live.
Things that we are quite familiar with today did not even exist prior to 911. The Department of Homeland Security, The US Patriot Act, The War in Afghanistan (which just ended, sort of), ISIS, the TSA, Immigration Reform, the TV show 24 and it’s hero Jack Bauer.
September 11, 2001 will rightfully get talked about and remembered a lot today. But there are other things worth remembering as well…
- The God that we worship and serve was not surprised by anything that happened on that day.
- A quote that bears repeating: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
- A Scripture from Matthew 16:33 where Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- A reminder that when things seem out of control, God is still in control.
- Our faith is built on the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus and the blessed hope that He will return one day to make all things right.
- People are capable of incredibly heroic exploits – but the most heroic thing that we can do is to demonstrate love to the people around us every day.
There will no doubt be more days like 911 in our future but as a people of faith we are not to live in fear, but rather to hold out the hope of the gospel. God’s good news always trumps the world’s bad news.
Never forget that you are very loved,