I was 15 and I will never forget that day. There are moments in our lives when events happen that change us for life. September 11, 2001, was one of those moments. Everyone old enough to comprehend what was taking place will never be the same because of it.
20 years have passed but the memories are fresh in my mind.
I was in health class listening to what was taking place on the radio in my teacher’s office. There was a great deal of fear and confusion about what was happening. What did it mean? Why did this happen? Are we safe?
A group of the older high school students spent their lunch period gathered around the T.V. in the history teacher’s room watching as it unfolded, watching the horror as the towers fell, and questioning everything we thought we knew. I think my childhood ended that day.
All that felt safe in life was no longer safe.
Earlier this week my oldest, who is almost the age I was when 9/11 took place, reminded me that this year marked 20 years. Her remarks stopped me almost instantly. How could it possibly have been 20 years?
It changed the landscape of my teenage years. I felt the fallout of that day well into adulthood with friends who joined the military and were deployed overseas. We watched families we knew buried children because of war. There was no part of life that wasn’t touched because of that day 20 years ago.
There were a great many who came to know Christ in those days. There were many who sought to live their lives better than before. There were many who experienced great pride in being an American. There were many who came together with their neighbor for the first time ever and expressed love and kindness. We were a united nation.
What Have We Forgotten as a Nation 20 years later?
For many of us, recent news about Afghanistan opens fresh wounds and heartache. It opens harsh reminders of lives lost and the reason the battles were fought in the first place. September 11, 2001 wasn’t just one day, the ripple has spread for decades.
In some ways, we have forgotten. The clouds of the pandemic have overshadowed our entire lives and we are people quick to forget. Quick to forget the roads we have walked, the history we know, and the country we love. We have become lovers of division, addicts to anxiety, and paralyzed by pandemics and politics.
We are a nation that has neglected the truths we learned from 9/11.
Just like grief, over time the pain slowly fades, memories aren’t as strong, and the voices we remember are not quite as loud. So this has become true of 9/11. It shouldn’t, these things that have shaped us and changed us should be constant reminders to do better, to be better. The memories and moments should be an ever-present mark on our minds.
We must never become a nation that forgets its history and the effect it has had on our character. We must teach it to our children. We get to remind them that history teaches us again and again that God is faithful in the darkness.
My children are young, they have not lived long enough yet to see a moment like 9/11, and I pray they never do. But, I want them to know about these moments that shape our nation. I want them to know just as my grandparents told me about world wars and the Great Depression. These events shape not only generations but our country.
Just like the events our grandparents witnessed, 9/11 should be the event that reminds us what is important. 20 years later we can look back and be reminded of a few things we have forgotten.
5 Things to Be Reminded of 20 Years after 9/11
1. Live every day as the gift it is. We are not promised tomorrow, long lives, or even lives that are easy and without pain. Each day we are given is a gift before us, one that we should use to glorify God in all things.
2. Love our neighbors. This is a lesson that has faded in the last few years. We no longer love our neighbors but seek to live in a place of division. We can come together when things are hard and take care of each other, we have seen it time and again. Yet, we are quick to forget how much we need each other.
3. Always say what you feel to those who matter to you. When you love someone let them know. Don’t rush through life and miss the moments to let people in your life know that they matter.
4. Look for what you can do for someone else. No matter what seeks to divide us, there is always a way we can serve and love someone else.
5. Know Christ. 9/11 taught us that there may not be a second chance. We cannot run from God forever, one day we will meet him face to face. The time to prepare for that meeting is now, don’t put it off. Knowing Christ will make life sweeter.
There are many other lessons I carry with me from that day 20 years ago. It changed me, in that moment I grew up and my eyes were opened to the broken world that we live in. For the first time in my life, I was aware that there was darkness I could not make sense of.
That day cannot be a waste, the lives lost cannot be for nothing. Everything carries a lesson, something we can learn, something that God will use to shape our lives. If God uses it to teach our hearts, we must never forget it.
This week as we see 20 years officially pass since that September day I pray you will examine the lessons you learned those many years ago and see if there are any that you have forgotten. Bring them back to the forefront and never forget the day that changed our nation.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Spencer Platt/Staff
Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.
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