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The America of September 12

An Alan Jackson song asks, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” It’s about September 11, 2001, and, if you were alive then and now, you probably remember where you were.

This past week, we had that “9/11” anniversary again. “9/11” is all that needs to be said. No year is mentioned, we just know that “9/11” was in 2001 and was the most horrific attack on the mainland of the United States.

Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four jetliners and flew three of them into three of our most iconic symbols of America. The terrorists struck at the economic might of our nation as they flew two jetliners into The Twin Towers in New York City.

They struck at the military strength of our nation as they flew one plane into our Pentagon. The one jetliner that did not reach its destination, thanks to the heroic actions of passengers who figured out what was going on, was aimed at our political structures, either the White House or the Capitol.

On that morning, evil sought to seriously damage the economic, military, and political might of our nation. It was a stunning achievement and might have succeeded except for a national spirit that had yet to be diminished by the divisions that have beset our country. It’s hard to accept how far we have fallen since that fateful day nineteen years ago.

All Americans were stunned on 9/11, but something happened the day after that is also memorable. September 12 was a Wednesday, which meant Prayer Meetings for many churches. Churches were full on that Wednesday night and the following Sundays as well.

Even if you weren’t a regular church-goer, there was a unity of spirit in our nation. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, after his nation’s stunning attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, said, “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” In the weeks following 9/11, the United States was a unified giant filled with great resolve.

The question for us, these days, is “Can we find that unified resolve of September 12, which has always been our most valuable national attribute”

There may not be any huge planes flying into our iconic and physical structures, currently, but the missiles aimed at our nation’s health are just as dangerous.

Remember the heroism of the New York City police and fire departments? Hundreds climbed up into the injured towers doing their jobs as never before. They did not know, nor did it matter, that as they climbed up into the inferno, they would lose their lives and never be found in the rubble of falling Twin Towers.

Unfortunately, those same departments of public safety, the cops, firefighters, and first responders, now, are criticized by the mayor of that metropolis as brutal and insensitive, in need of being re-educated so that they will be more compassionate. Their bravery has been forgotten. Instead, when they do their difficult and dangerous jobs, they wonder if anyone will have their backs.

The spirit of our people in the aftermath of the most horrible mainland attack was one of defiance and determination. Now, it seems that a virus, as real and dangerous as it is, has frightened us in a way that leads us to lock ourselves in our homes as if that is the way to victory over it.

As remembrances of 9/11/2001 affected our emotions again and reminded us of a nation that stood up and committed itself to taking care of business, let us not forget the day after where we gathered in unity and humility, knowing that our futures were tied to the One who is Greater!