Remembering

Ten years ago I was just leaving a morning class at my alma mater when a fellow student told me that our country was under attack from unknown enemies and that people were dying in New York and D.C. From the sheltered bubble of our school the rest of the world usually seemed far away and somehow unimportant to our daily lives. But this day was different from any other that we had seen.

The school administration made special announcements to inform us that the stories we had been hearing were true. Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They told us that they would be leaving on the televisions in our residence halls so that we could track the ongoing events. For a moment of time our bubble was shattered and the world outside came rushing in.

The few days that followed were some of the most memorable of my entire college career. People everywhere were a little kinder and a little more considerate. Our petty concerns were superseded by a concern for our country. For those of us who were natives of the land our identities of religion or background were superseded by a single word: “American.” And when they sang God Bless the USA in student body we all stood and sang along.

Now, a decade later I watch again the images of that day to again feel the horror of the human loss and marvel at the bravery and sacrifice of our police, firefighters, and emergency workers. And I thank God for this country where I have been blessed to live and the people who I have been honored to call friends and countrymen. Many I knew that college and shared that day with have since served on foreign soils to protect those same freedoms that we hold dear. And I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Sometimes it takes terrible events to shock us from our obsession with the mundane and surprise us with our own common humanity. It is a shame that is must be so.

63 thoughts on “Remembering”

        1. Does being an ex-NYer make truth telling more important to healing? I have only been to NY once, does that mean I am not concerned with the truth?

      1. I also posted a memoir of my spiritual journey (which led me to repentance and my decision to take up the work of documenting clergy abuse of children in Fundamentalism, back in September 2001) that was born of 9/11/2001. And somebody decided to post a long diatribe about the “conspiracy” in the comments section. Way out of line, guys. Get a clue about appropriate behavior when people are grieving for the dead or placing focus on the justice and mercy of God.

    1. Of course, the time I came SO CLOSE to “first” I now can’t think of anything brilliant to say.

      I was getting ready to go to work and my son called from across the country and told me to turn on the TV. We watched “together” as it all unfolded. He had just been released from the Army and my selfish fear was that this would interfere with his coming back home.

      Our world changed that day. We can never be the same again. That is such an understatement but I can’t think of any other words to say it more appropriately.

  1. It occurs to me that this post may surprise some of you, given the treatment that I give churches who go in for large patriotic displays.

    I’d like to say for the record that it is not patriotism or patriotic displays to which I object but rather the conflation of those ideals with the ideals of Christianity as if they were one and the same thing.

    I love this country fiercely and I’m thankful to be an American. But I love Jesus more.

    1. The objection I have is when *some* people try to MAKE me feel something (like patriotism, or gratitude or whatever the emotion of the moment *ought* to be.) All my life I have had people TELL me I ought to love my country, respect my pastor, etc etc.
      The big displays and “Patriotic Programs” (Which, I confess I have participated in in the past) rub me the wrong way. But remembering the heroes and the victims who died on the day our country was attacked is what brings out TRUE Patriotism in those of us who were coerced into it before. (in my opinion)

      1. Francis Schaeffer predicted this would happen. He said Christianity in the US should be careful as to not wrap itself in the flag. Yes, look at the stages from whence the MOG preach. I wonder if this began way back in the day when Christianity was legalized by the Holy Roman Empire.

  2. I was just telling HF that when people want to honor him today that its also their way of thanking his fallen brothers as both police and fire (HF is also a vol. firefighter). They can’t say thank you to them, but they can to him.

    He stared at me, swallowed hard, and nodded slowly. Something he still does when he remembers them… ten years later.

  3. I was on duty in the Air Force on this day 10yrs ago. In a whirl of events six weeks later I was helping set up war ops from a very sandy dirty place. I realized this was real for me when the pilot told everyone to pull the window shades down and we made a “combat” landing in a DC10 commercial airliner.

  4. It is true that this horrible event 10 years ago “changed us forever” as people often say. I think it’s worthwhile to not be too introspective or even nationalistic in so far as what happened to us then has been happening for quite a long time around the world and still does. Many of our Christian brothers and sister, or just human brothers and sisters, experience terrorism and war on a daily basis. We must always strive to do whatever we can for the causes of peace and justice.

    I don’t say this to diminish any of the memory of those who sacrificed their lives, their health, etc, on that horrible day. Many of them were and are heroes and will always be.

    1. I agree. Terrorism and acts of violence occur to fellow human beings all over the world. We are by no means unique or alone in experiencing this aspect of humanity.

  5. I was in 9th grade, riding the school bus on the way to school in the morning when we heard on the radio that the two towers had been hit. I recall not feeling very shocked or horrified. Perhaps I was too young and too far away to really comprehend the tragedy of the event. I don’t know how else to explain it, but 9/11 just was. The earth was round, I was in school, bad things happened to people, and terrorists had flown 2 planes into the twin towers in NY.

    As I grew up in high school during these years, I continued to have that sense that it’s just always been that way. 9/11 has shaped almost every debate, every important policy issue since then. It’s always been that way to me.

    1. I can see how a young person could view 9/11 as something that just WAS. But when you’re older, you grow to expect certain things. Hijackers don’t send planes full of innocent people into buildings full of innocent people, buildings that were among the tallest in the world, in the city that to many symbolized America. And then the Pentagon. We were under attack – on our mainland, in our major cities. War (it seemed) had come to US. It was shocking and horrifying. It violated every sense of how we thought life should be or would be.

      My children are too little (some hadn’t even been born) to understand our horrified disbelief and the stunning realization that we were not invulnerable and superior.

      I always think of Steven Vincent Benet’s poem “Nightmare at Noon” that describes “the high, bright city, the lucky place, the place that always had time.” We just assumed that it couldn’t happen here. And then it did.

    2. I was pregnant with my oldest child when 9/11 happened. I remember being very sad that the world I was bringing him into had forever been changed. None of my kids will know what life was like before 9/11…when we were invincible, or at least it felt that way.

    3. I ws in sixt grade in language(abeka) class. I didn’t have anything life changing or great emotion. thinking on it now, it is horrifying that so many people died. I the event itself help me relize how big the world is outside of just my life.

  6. “Sometimes it takes terrible events to shock us from our obsession with the mundane and surprise us with our own common humanity. It is a shame that is must be so.” -Darrell

    “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” -C.S. Lewis

  7. I was in 9th grade in my science class. We stopped what we were doing, and just watched the TV. After that period ended I went to my “World History” class where the teacher said it didn’t affect us because we were in Alabama, turned the TV off, and made us do class work. About 45 minutes later those of us who were children of soldiers (me included) were evacuated back to the military installation in case additional attacks occurred.

  8. I was in fourth grade. They decided not to tell we elementary school kids, even though all of the teachers knew, which probably was a good thing. I remember my mom telling me when I got home, though. I was still pretty young, so I didn’t understand all the political reasons and everything, but it was still very upsetting.

    I remember crying all afternoon, actually. It was scary.

    My sisters, both of whom were in middle school, were told, though. I believe they let them just watch TV for at least part of the day.

  9. I’m an American now living in Canada. I was still in the states 10 years ago when this happened. I was horrified and I cried all that week. It took quite a long time to process this in my mind to try to figure out how such a horrible thing could happen. I think in the immortal words of FDR which he spoke on December 7, 1941, September 11 became “a date which will live in infamy.”

    10 years later, also on September 11, my husband and I have left our IFB church. I have posted several times in the past few weeks that it was coming. Last night in a private meeting with the pastor he delivered the death knoll that made our decision final. So another September 11, 10 years later another sort of death has occurred. This will become a good thing in the long run, I know we have made the right decision, but for the next week or so it’s going to be rather painful. I really came to love many of the people in that church. I will miss them. But we will move on, and find another church to serve God in, one where the pastor doesn’t demand things we can’t give.

    God bless all of you today. πŸ˜₯

    1. M, Best of luck on your journey outside the IBF world. Leaving a church, even on the best of circumstances can be hard, but if there is conflict, it can be that much harder. Blessings to you.

    2. Know you are not the first to walk the path you find yourself now. May freedom and grace become more real to you than ever before and may our Heavenly Father comfort you every step of the way.

  10. Seems so strangely appropriate that todays “Common Revised Lectionary” used by a large number of denominational churches included one of the stories of Joseph, as well as Peter asking our Lord “How Many Times Should We Forgive”.

    The answer, as our pastor put it so well: “We are not called to forgive and forget; instead we are called to forgive and remember – – and grow”.

    1. another sermon from today’s lectionary reading by a friend of mine…

      The lectionary reading from the OT was the crossing of the Red Sea.

      The Hebrew people trapped and terrified, wanting to go back to the way things were before.

      That’s how many of us felt 10 years ago. We didn’t know what was happening, we were afraid, and we knew things would never be the same.

      But Moses tells the people to believe God’s promises and move forward.

      And things will never be the same for them again.

      We live in a world of constant change and frightening challenges, but some things never change.

      God’s promises will be kept.

      The Gospel is true.

      Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever.

      Moses tells the people “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; for I am with you always.”

      Moses then tells the people to go–to move forward. Jesus said to go to the ends of the earth with his message.

      We can go forward in confidence that in times of change and fear, God’s promises will remain.

  11. My memory of 9/11 actually ties in with the theme of this weblog. It was my first week of “rehab” at the Roloff Homes. There was no TV there, and we normally were only allowed to listen to recordings of Roloff screaming about something, but they actually piped the news into the dining hall, which we were cleaning at the time.

    I never saw the footage when it happened. Most news was delivered via screaming at large groups of people (something fundies call “preaching”). They didn’t seem to understand how similar they were to the moslems. Sure, fundies are generally non-violent (towards people who aren’t there children) but their obsessions with clothing, hair length, acceptable entertainment (and all externals in general) and their bitching about how the government should be promoting fundy standards made them a lot more like the moslems than they liked to think. I think the primary difference between fundies and moslems is that fundies have never had control of any nation.

    By the time I got out of the Roloff Homes they had stopped showing the actual plane crashes altogether. I saw it for the first time a few months ago.

    More importantly to me: when they start talking about another 9/11 anniversary on the news, it reminds me that I’ve been off the booze another year. I’m 10 years sober this year.

    Too much seriousness. I’m going back to writing stupid one-liners starting… now!

    1. I need to correct you reader mo. The muslims were not responsible for Sept.11. Al-Qaeda (a global Sunni Islamist militant group) was behind the attack. Please do not generalize. It would be like generalizing the actions of the IFB as “Christian”. They are not. They are extremists.

  12. And, of all the victims I kept in mind today, I choose to distinctly remember Miss Christine Lee Hanson. She was a bright 2 1/2 year old who was on her way to Los Angeles to meet family on United Airlines Flight 175.

    One of her favorite things to do was garden with her Father. When they planted a new tree, she would say, “I bet you are thirsty. Let me feed you and give you a hug.”

    She died in the arms of her Father and Mother who perished with her.

    She would be 12 1/2 today.

  13. I was on my way to work when I found out. My co-worker had just picked me up and told me that a plane had crashed into the towers. We agreed, it had to be a horrible accident and then we got to work and my boss told us that a second crash had happened. We all spent the day in a state of shock, making calls to friends and relatives on the east coast and worrying when we couldn’t get through. I still cannot imagine what it must have taken to sit in a plane with all those innocent people around you and decide to kill them and hundreds more by your actions. That level of fanatisim and cruelety still puzzles and frightens me, especially seeing it on a smaller scale from the RRR.

    1. Please take your tinfoil hat and go spout your truther nonsense somewhere else.

      I’ve already said as kindly as I know how that this is not the place or time for this.Any further attempts to bring up this topic will be removed.

      Here we are grieving and remembering. I’d appreciate it if you would allow us to do so in peace.

  14. I enjoyed reading this article from 2002 about how one Christain responded on 9/11. http://touch.slate.com/slate/#!/entry/747f75c373255fa923d7d947b000912d. Today was a sober day of retrospection and respect.

    Tomorrow, we have to focus on the fact that in the last 24 hours 77 Americans were injured by a truck bomb, detonated by the same people that have been continuously attacking us since 1993. The fact that the injured Americans were soldiers in Afghanistan is a testament to their bravery and sacrifice. It also shows that we’ve weakened the enemy’s ability to attack the mainland. Most importantly, it shows that our enemy has not given up.

    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” – Thomas Jefferson

  15. I am also praying for the courageous rescuers who are still suffering from health problems incurred that dreadful day. I hope I do not just remember them today, but always.

  16. Nationally this generation was touched by evil. It changed us at our most basic levels. We changed how we lived. We changed how we conducted our daily lives. For the most part we have looked to ourselves, what we can do to protect ourselves, what we can do to change evil in the world.

    We have seen the problem of evil and we collectively look for the rationale, we collectively seek the solution for evil, sans our creator. We attribute things to God that we perceive as good or evil, right or wrong, just or unjust, and fair or unfair. In practice that means we usurp God’s role and made it our own.

    We see evil and we want justice according to our limited perception of what has happened. We either blame God for not stopping it before it took place or we construct a god that is just as surprised and just as horrified by the events as we are. Either way, we judge God to be unworthy of our worship.

    9/11 changed the world… it changed how we view the world… it changed how many percieve god… but it didn’t change God. It didn’t change God’s Love. It didn’t change God’s mercy. It didn’t change God’s plans. No matter what changes in this world we have a sure, unchanging, immovable anchor in an immutable God who is never surprised by circumstances. I can rest in that and sleep tonight because of who HE is… not what I think he is, or hope he is.

    Let us remember evil is in this broken world… Then let’s proclaim the Good news that Jesus Christ has conquered all the power this world holds over us (death, hell and the grave) and no matter what circumstances we face we can face them with love, grace and assurance that God knows the end from the beginning and he will accomplish all he wills and purposes because HE is God.

    I find great comfort in Romans 8:32-39
    He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

    β€œFOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

    But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  17. On 9/11/2001 I repented of my pride and went searching for some good thing I could do to serve others. After a day and a night of prayer and consideration and grief, I realized that I was best fitted to document the abuse of children in Christian Fundamentalism, to prevent their dignity and value from being swept away by the callous men who allowed child abusers to stay in the pulpit and simply moved them around while redacting the facts to assure that the victims (like Brent Stevens) were forgotten.

    Surely, I realized, these despicable sins affronted God tremendously. I had no idea how far this journey would take me, or how massive the wall of sin and silence really was.

    But since then, I’ve suffered tremendous loss, received great riches, been made poor again, lost most of my close friends, received new friends, been reviled, accused, slandered, praised, welcomed, hated, and loved. But all the while, I had what I never had before: I have had the sense of Christ never far from me, laboring for His people, and I’ve had fellowship with Him in that labor. My life is much lonelier because of that single focus of keeping that commitment, and yet my invisible life of prayer and awareness of the presence of Christ is far richer and immediate than I had ever thought I would receive in this life.

  18. I always viewed 9/11 as my generation’s Pearl Harbor. I was attending the National Gospel Quartet Convention in Louisville, KY during this time in 2001. I remember watching the news in the morning just as it came on.

    I never looked back for joining the Army to get those bastards who did that to us. At boot camp I raised my hand along with over half the recruits when asked if we joined because of 9/11. Let’s hope we never allow them to do that again to us.

  19. To me, 9/11 will always be burned into my brain…it was 10 yrs ago, but it seems to me like it was yesterday.

    I was there…

    I saw the second plane hit the south tower and explode in ball of flame…

    I will never forget the sounds….

    the sound of the sirens…

    the sound of the people on the street sobbing in disbelief (myself included)…

    …and that awful cracking sound as I saw the South Tower fall…then the North Tower…

    I knew then and there, that our world would never be the same.

    I will never forget….

    1. I’m so sorry you had to be there to witness it. I know a couple people who were there…they don’t really talk about it much except to say how horrible it was. It was bad enough, watching it on tv. I don’t even want to imagine what it must have been like in person. *HUG*

  20. Last night I cried, sobbed, about 9/11 for the first time since the attacks happened. Do I know anyone who was lost that day? No. But my heart went out to those who were there and affected by this tragedy. I guess it just took 10 years for it to hit me; I don’t know why it took so long, but it is what it is. πŸ˜₯

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