I haven’t heard much about September 11 this year. Maybe the politicians are too busy campaigning. Or maybe they don’t want to be accused of turning a solemn day into a photo op. Or maybe now that we’ve marked the ten year anniversary, it is time to move on. But even if memorial services don’t demand front page placement anymore, I don’t think we ever will–or ever should–forget.
On 9/11/2001 I was at stay-at-home mom, enjoying time off between jobs. I dropped my kids off at school, and then went to Wal-Mart. Among other things on my shopping list was a new Bible, so I could make good on my “promise” to be better about daily devotional reading . I settled on the Women’s Devotional Bible, which includes daily essays paired with Scripture readings.
On my way home, I listened to the radio, the Jack Diamond Morning Show on Mix 107.3 FM. At some point, Jack dropped the usual programming and started talking about some reports he was hearing about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City. Now, I love the Jack Diamond Morning Show, and I like Jack, but my first reaction was that he was jumping the gun, overblowing some minor incident, making a big deal out of nothing. Before I made it home, he had announced reports about a plane crashing into the Pentagon! Now that couldn’t be. He must be exaggerating, spreading wild rumors. But, I was getting that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I rushed into the house, turned on the TV (sorry, Jack!) and saw the video–a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings, actually two planes, and a plane had crashed into the Pentagon–I know people who work at the Pentagon–what was happening?
I watched the news for a while, but then I couldn’t take it anymore. I got out my Bible, and started looking for comforting words. I don’t remember what led me to it, but I ended up at Psalm 37 (not a Psalm I’d made particular note of before):
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
* * * * *
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret–it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
* * * * *
The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.
* * * * *
I found comfort in these words. I did not have to worry about the “evil men” who seemed to be “succeed[ing] in their ways.” God would take care of me–and take care of them.
I went back to the news. I was glued to it for the rest of the day. I called my friends who worked at the Pentagon and learned that they were safe. I heard from my husband who was safe, but unable to leave work. I decided to leave my kids at school, where I knew they were safe. Never before had I really thought about being “safe,” but that was my main concern that day.
Today, I do feel safe again, but there are reminders that the world is not as safe as it used to be–or at least not as safe as we thought it was. When I go to the airport later today, I will have to take off my shoes, remove my toiletries from my suitcase, and be x-rayed. When I visit the monuments in Washington, D.C., rows of jersey barriers keep me a safe distance from entrances. When I enter a public event–a baseball game or an amusement park–I am not surprised (and may even be relieved) if we have to pass through a magnetometer or let our bags be searched.
But today I remember people who could never forget September 11–people whose lives were forever changed when family, friends and loved ones lost their lives, when they witnessed unspeakable horrors, when they suffered first hand through what I only saw on t.v.
Today, let us all take a moment to remember the thousands of innocent victims of terrorism, to appreciate our local first responders, and to honor those who serve in the military to keep us safe at home.
For more information from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, visit 911memorial.org.