May We Never Forget: September 11
May we never forget that day, though nearly an entire generation has emerged in its wake;
A day with piercing, sapphire skies, so typical of September.
And typically, it began.
The rush hour throng had subsided, and everyday people went about their everyday jobs, doing everyday things.
We all were living, striving, pushing onward as we always do, bogged down with life, yet blissfully unaware of what was about to rip through the veil of our current reality.
8:46am, September 11.
Our mouths and eyes hung open wide, and our minds struggled to process what we had just seen and heard. The smoke poured from the North Tower, while the rescuers and helpers scrambled to their feet.
As we stood, paralyzed, watching…watching…processing…praying, we witnessed that second plane, and our world forever changed. May we never forget.
May we never forget the horror of that day; the deluge of ashes, the screams, the deafening silence, and the fear that more was coming.
We were keenly aware of our vulnerability then, our need for a savior in any form he chose to manifest.
And he was there that day, present and active in each and every hero, and with each and every precious soul whose light was snuffed out.
He was there and we knew it. Even in our terror, we sensed his presence. We called out to him for help; we called out in our grief.
And in the terror, and the chaos, and the utter darkness of that day, he came.
His presence was made manifest in unthinkable displays of self-sacrifice and in the unprecedented coming-together of a nation.
May we never forget that, on that day, our common bond as New Yorkers, as Americans, as humans supplanted any need to set ourselves apart from one another:
“United we stand, divided we fall.”
Everyone had a connection on September 11; everyone had a story. And we listened.
We held one another in our arms and cried together. We mourned for one another, we mourned for ourselves. Our grief was intensely personal then and we did not hide it.
For a time our priorities were clear and simple: love our families, love our neighbors.
We crossed our protective boundaries of race, religion, gender, and lifestyle to gather together by candlelight and pray. And we prayed, “May we never forget.”
But, oh God…we have indeed forgotten the wrong things.
We remembered the lost, we remembered the heroes, the fear, and how terrorism raped our innocence and naivety, leaving us hardened and resolved: never again.
We remembered our patriotism, we remembered the flag; the military, the police, and the firefighters. As we should.
But we have all but forgotten the most important things our darkest times should teach us:
That we need one another.
And we need God.
September 11 was not a day he created to teach us a lesson, yet with our partnership in his plan, we can learn from it, be better for it. We can choose this.
But we have forgotten.
We have allowed the superficial, the what-we-see-on-the-outside, to divide us once again. Neighbor against neighbor: our colors, our life choices, our stance on whether to stand or take a knee—these things now weigh us down and pull us apart.
Nationalistic pride will not fix this.
Nor Bible-beating, nor elections, nor “taking back” our communities, our churches, or our nation.
Our only true hope lies in remembering
that we need God
and we need one another,
and we need to seek out both.
That it is incumbent upon us to be the heroes who rush in to help the helpless, to hold the hurting, to see the common bond of humanity that connects us all,
and kneel together at the feet of our Savior. In gratitude, in supplication, and in loyal love.
These are the lessons of September 11.
Oh God, may we never forget.