Tomorrow will be twenty years since the fateful day we simply refer to as “9/11.” I may not have remembered the significant anniversary of that tragic day had my favorite college football team, UAB, not unveiled a new helmet design for Saturday’s game, which includes their dragon logo in red, white and blue. As part of the announcement on social media, they included the hashtag #neverforget.
I thought that was a little ironic, since even the oldest players who will be wearing those helmets aren’t old enough to actually remember that day to begin with. Not to mention that a good percentage of those players were not even born in 2001.
But for those of us who were, and who do remember, I wonder if we have forgotten. No doubt, we remember the events of that day, and even where we were when we heard the news. I am sure we remember seeing those planes crash into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, live on TV, and then watching in horror as those iconic Twin Towers came crashing to the ground. And if we have forgotten any of those particulars, I know we will be reminded of them again and again this weekend with TV specials and news reports from Ground Zero.
But I wonder if we have forgotten how we felt. There were feelings of fear, as we were shaken that such terrorism, usually reserved for other parts of the world, had finally made it to American soil. There was anger, as our shock turned to a desire for vengeance: “Somebody’s going to pay for this!” And there was sadness, as more tears were shed that week that any in American history.
And more than anything, the people of our nation were humbled together during those days and weeks after the events of 9/11, which included the greatest displays of unity and genuine patriotism since World War II. And it wasn’t just flag-waving; it was a heart-felt love for country and for all she stands for. It was an appreciation of the freedom we share, and a fear that it may be taken away from us. To this day, it is still hard to imagine, especially in today’s political climate, seeing members of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, holding hands and singing “God Bless America” together.
That day, and the days that followed, changed our perspective as Americans. Suddenly football games and home run chases didn’t really matter any more. The declining stock market lots its significance, and the petty bickering of partisan politics turned to harmony. For all of us, usually frustrated in our own daily trivial pursuits, it was suddenly hard to complain when we saw thousands of fellow Americans lining New York streets holding out little hope, as they held up photos of their missing loved ones.
There was a sincere broken-heartedness in our land, evidenced by the tears shed. There was fear and uncertainty, for sure, of the possibility of more attacks, but really it was a weeping for America. I believed then that God would use that tragedy to bring us as a nation to our knees and cause us to seek the Him like never before.
For a season, that happened. People sought the Lord openly. Church worship services filled up on Sundays, and many of us participated in interdenominational city-wide prayer gatherings, which sprang up all around. But eventually people got back to their busy lives, and forgot God again. And along the way the patriotism and unity that came after 9/11 seemed to wane as well. We said we would never forget, but by and large, we forgot.
I thought the tragedy of this Covid pandemic might take us back there once again, and break us of our self-sufficiency, but this time it turned into more of a source of political and cultural division–and arguments over masks and vaccines and shutdowns–more than coming together to seek the Lord for His deliverance. I pray somehow still that the Lord would use this to “shake us” and remind us of our need for Him.
That’s a common theme in Scripture, that we are to remember Him, and “never forget” that He is our source of hope and peace and deliverance, and yes, even unity. I hope this weekend you will remember those tragic events of September 11, 2001, but that you will also be sure to remember–not to forget–that the Lord is faithful no matter what trial any of us ever face. Seek Him with all your heart. He never fails.
I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.