Seven years have passed since the greatest act of terror on our own soil, yet the emotions brought by the memories still feel so fresh. For most people, the images of 9/11 are forever etched in our minds. . . along, hopefully, with some truths.
My son was less than eight months old on that tragic day. His age serves as a steady benchmark for the anniversary year. Today I had the privilege of participating in a prayer group at my church. It seems that everyone’s hearts were very sensitive to the memory of that fateful day. We prayed for the families of the victims as well as for our nation’s leaders, a task I feel more compelled to do every day.
As I was getting ready to tuck my son into bed tonight, he asked me about 9/11. His school wore red, white, and blue today and marked the occasion with a fighter jets fly-over. For the third or fourth time today, I found my eyes welling with tears as I recounted the story of where I was when the news came. It’s so hard to believe that someone could have so many questions. After all, it just happened. . . or so it seems. Of course, he was just a baby, so it is my memories and stories that help color the significance of that day for his generation. It is a story we are charged with remembering well — and never forgetting the way it changed life.
However, that life-changing day was perhaps not life-changing so much as mind-altering. I think that, like it or not, so many times we take our freedoms for granted. We think to ourselves, “It couldn’t happen to me.” We live in a fairy-tale world where villains always receive justice and where good always wins.
I think that for me, those thoughts were deeply challenged on 9/11. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I still fail to fully grasp how awesome it is to be an American, even though I’m quite patriotic. And I still fall into the trap of believing it — whatever it is — couldn’t happen to me. And I really do believe that good ultimately prevails. But on 9/11, I saw just how fragile those beliefs can seem in light of such a mind-blowing calamity.
I am a proud American. I am a proud father. And I am proud that in the seven years since the terror attacks, I am still sensitive enough to cry for the losses. Such a day must never just become a part of the history books. Its lessons must help shape our thoughts and guide our actions for generations to come.
When I tell the story of 9/11, I’m committed to tell it like it was. That is perhaps one of the greatest contributions of gratitude I can make for those whose lives were lost.
Love always. . . laugh often. . . live well.
And never ever ever forget.