Thirteen years ago the world changed before my eyes. It became darker as I witnessed the crushing magnitude of evil and hatred. But it also got lighter in some ways as I realized that people could be braver, stronger and more heroic than I ever even knew. There are many stories from that day – people who were there, people who knew people who were there, and people just watching their television screens in horror. Many people still ask each other “where were you?” on its anniversary. We all seem to remember it like it was yesterday.
We call it9/11 because that’s the date that it happened. I always kind of thought it deserved a better, more descriptive name, but then again I don’t think that proper words exist to sum up that day. Innocent, oblivious travelers boarded planes. Normal, devoted employees went to work. First responders sat in their police cars and fire stations, unaware. Mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters.
When it happened, I thought to myself, “Did that REALLY just happen?” It was so shocking, so unthinkable. And then it happened again, and again and again. We all became scared, unsure of what was next, not quite knowing what to do. And when those towers crumbled, so did our sense of control and security. Our hearts were like the debris field – scattered with insurmountable damage that we couldn’t even BEGIN to know how to fix.
I didn’t know anyone on the planes or anyone in those buildings, but I know that they are important. I know the collective loss felt that day is even more sharp and painful for those who are remembering their loved ones and just how senseless it is that they are no longer here. It’s so senseless. I think if I were in their shoes, I would never want time to distance people from remembering what was lost.
Today I will remember the business travelers, the vacationers who packed their suitcases and walked out the door that morning. I’ll remember the fathers and mothers who kissed little foreheads as they headed out to work. I’ll remember firefighters who saw death and destruction and ran TOWARDS it to help prevent more. I’ll remember first responders who stood strong even as their hearts were breaking. I’ll remember scared souls who had to make “last phone calls.” I’ll remember the brave spirits who decided enough was enough and fought back, sacrificing their own lives. I’ll remember the names and faces I don’t know because I know they matter and they should be here. And someone is still just as devastated today as they were 13 years ago that they aren’t.
I’ll also remember the sense of unity and pride we all felt as a nation and all the heroes that emerged. We rallied while we were still broken and that was something to experience.
My kids will learn about this through stories and textbooks – a lens that will distance them a bit from the disbelief, fear and grief the day actually brought. But I want to make sure they “remember” also and know really what that day was about. It was a battle between love and hate, goodness and evil, light and darkness. It was a shocking, crushing blow to love, goodness and light, but we all know who wins in the end.
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:15
I pray that everyone who hurts today feels the light shining on them. We will never, ever forget.