Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget

Each year on the anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, I am overtaken by a flood of emotions. Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, blah blah didn't matter.  So many people I know had some sort of connection to the attacks and a nation came together and mourned.  A number of things about that day come immediately to mind:

1) As I stood in the small cafe in the office park where I worked at the time and watched the second plane slammed into Tower 2, it became immediately clear that this was an intentional act and life as an American would never be the same. Fourteen years later, our nation has implemented controversial security measures that have prevented another attack yet I can't help but wonder at what cost. Our federal government now collects heretofore-unimaginable amounts of data about average citizens just living their lives. Police departments around the country more closely resemble the military unit I was in as a US Marine in the 1980s'. Closer to home, a couple of weeks ago when I attended a high school football game, an armed deputy sheriff stood at the gate with his hand resting all-too comfortably on the handle of his gun. It is sad that one of the results of these terror attacks is the perception of a police state in which we now seem to live. Did the terrorists win after all?

2) I wondered at the time what kind of world my son would inherit from our generation. He was only a few months old at the time and my daughter wasn't even born yet. I wondered what they would think about our handling of these attacks, later threats, and how the United States would present itself on the world stage.  With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, what might they do differently as the torch of leadership is passed to them in the coming years. Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, none of the above: will they understand that collectively as a nation we elected the people we thought at the time would best represent us and that in spite of the deep differences in worldview, we genuinely did the best we could at the time?

3) America showed up for church in the weeks that followed in numbers not seen in over a generation. So many people turned to God and filled the pews of our churches. In some instances, they were comforted by messages intended to reflect patriotism telling them that our nation was strong and would endure this challenge. Many, too many, heard a lot more about nationalism and not nearly enough about the risen Christ.  America showed up for church and a lot of churches failed those people by pointing them towards Christ only in passing, as an afterthought.  Those lost souls deserved better. I am grateful that God placed me in this world, in this nation, at this point in history BUT that is secondary to my love of Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross at Calvary. We should have made much more of Jesus and not so much of the United States. America showed up at church; a lot of churches let her down. I wonder how different our nation might be if thousands of those people had accepted the gospel?

God has blessed my wife and I with two amazing kids who are growing up to be wonderful young adults who love the Lord. We live in a wonderful community with other families who, like us, just want to raise their kids, enjoy their grandkids, and live peaceful, quiet lives. I pray often for the families who lost loved one in the attacks. I pray often for the families who lost first responders who died trying to save others simply because that was their job. I pray often for the leaders of our nation that they might seek God Almighty as a key part of their decision-making process. I pray often for our churches that they may have a heart for our communities, our nation, and the world, even places where many would wish us harm. I pray often that God would help me to stay close to him and keep me clean.

I will never forget what happened fourteen years ago this morning. Honestly, I don’t think I can.

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