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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Power of Remembering 9/11

The Deep Power of  Memories

  When JFK was assassinated, I was in Miss Fish’s third grade class, and I remember her face and tears when the news came over the intercom.  When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, I was in front of the television set watching the moment with my family.  I don’t remember where I was when MLK and RFK were killed, but remember the events.  But when Nixon resigned, I was on my way to the local radio station, and upon arriving, read it over the AP teletype alert.  When the Challenger exploded, I was on Highway 59 north of Moran, Kansas, headed back home, and heard the announcement on the radio.  When the first Gulf War began, I was involved with a small group outside of Kansas City…don’t remember exactly where I was when the second one started.  When the planes flew into the WTC, I was at my home finishing breakfast with the woman I was dating, who is now my wife, and a friend called and told us to turn on the television.  We saw the second plane fly in.  I don’t remember where I was when the Columbia was shattered, or when Reagan was shot, or when Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina devastated the coasts, or when Mt. St. Helen erupted. 

 I didn’t watch the whole memorial ceremony, but do remember one of the participants promise that we would never forget.  That is much like the Jewish call to never forget the Holocaust….an obscenity of history that far too many today have already forgotten, or are denying.  I recall, right after 9/11, the churches and synagogues were filled, U.S. citizens were united and aware that we are in danger from those who despise us.  Today, those churches and synagogues are back to “normal” and people live as if there is no impending danger out there.  It’s kind of funny, isn’t it, how certain events and moments freeze frame in our heads, and others just as significant are fuzzy, while still others pass into oblivion. 

  I am glad that somebody has finally been able to link the cancers and illnesses of those heroic workers to their experiences that day.  We owe those individuals a great debt….what great people they were.  I was reminded of the debt we owe those individuals when I, with my father, was able to stand near the field in Pennsylvania of Flight 93.  At that point there was no memorial, just a chain link filled with mementos from loved ones.  May God help all those families who lost loved ones that day of national tragedy. 

  Memories are powerful things in our lives.  Like many of my blog readers, I remember lots of events and moments tied in with my divorce, and that was before 9/11.  It is important to remember, and to let the memories of our past shape the actions of our present and future. I hope I have learned something from what I have experienced, don’t you?  But the most precious memory of all for me, happened in the Mark Twain Room of Maginnes Hall at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  That is the memory of the night I reaffirmed my childhood commitment to Christ in such a way that I settled the choice of where I would stand in my relationship with God in the direction of my life. 

  If, among all your memories today, you don’t have THAT memory between you and Christ, then I would encourage you to use this day of memorial to make that critical memory.  Let today be the day you define for all time your commitment to following Christ in your life.  The real battle in life is not with evil people who tear down buildings and destroy earthly lives.  The real battle is with the evil that inspires those people.  The evil that seeks to tear down our opportunities to have a relationship with God, and to destroy our lives for all eternity.  The evil that spreads hatred and rebellion throughout the earth and its history.  Don’t win the wrong battle. 

TL:dr  Things we can learn from the memory of 9/11.


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  2. What I remember is that more than any of the other events you mention, this one changed the world. History seems to divide as pre-9/11 and post 9/11. It was the day we in the US learned what many of our European and Middle Eastern neighbors already knew about the world - that the acts of evil men can touch us wherever we live and without warning. This is a timely post for me as I've had to meditate on the importance of memory these past few days. There is much to remember and much to reflect upon.