That Awful Day
This very hour five years ago, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Within the next 100 minutes or so, both towers fell, and our world of relative security and invincibility collapsed with them.
We watched, horrified. We huddled around televisions not only to witness, but also, together, to weep and pray.
What monstrous inhumanity would do such a thing?
Like Pearl Harbor was for my parents and grandparents, we will have that awful moment frozen in our consciousness for the rest of our lives.
Our thoughts turned instinctively to our oldest son, Chad, who had just finished basic training in the Army, and was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Infantry based in Italy. Little did we know that day that a short six months later he would parashoot at midnight into the muddy wheat fields outside Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
Indeed, our thoughts and prayers today, as every day, turn to our middle child, Cliff, who is presently serving in the Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad. It is night there, as I write this. Duerma con los angelitos, mi estimado hijo.
Fateful in yet another way, September 11, 2001 was my final day as pastor of Second Baptist Church in Lubbock before we relocated to San Antonio to serve Trinity Baptist. As the news stories poured out of New York, I knew I would have to dispense with the prepared speech that I was to deliver to the Lubbock Rotary Club at noon. I spoke extemporaneously instead, trying to give some utterance to the confusion and shock within us.
We also cancelled a community-wide service of thansgiving scheduled for that evening, and held a service of prayer instead. We just needed to be together in solidarity, grief, and hope.
We need to do that today too.
Let us remember the persons who perished in the attack and the resulting rescue effort, their bravery and heroism.
Let us remember the young men and women who have died in Iraq and
Afghanistan-- almost 3000-- their families and loved ones.
Let us remember those wounded in these wars, almost 20,000. I'm thinking now of the young man whose purple heart ceremony I was honored to witness at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He was gravely wounded in an attack, with severe burns over much of his body. When he spoke, though, his mind was on his buddies who didn't make it. "I just wish I could have done something for them." Where does a twentysomething year old kid get that kind of moral courage?
Let us remember what we don't want to remember: the Iraqi citizens who have died, perhaps over 40,000, many children.
Lux aeterna, luceat eis, Domine: Grant them eternal Light, O Lord.
Remembering is a powerful act. In it, someone has said, we get "re-membered:" put back together again from that which has "dis-membered" us.
You and I need that this day.