What Today Isn’t
I remember. If you were alive, you remember too. I found out about the tragedy in class. Dr. Kutz informed us all of what had gone on before we arrived in his class. We didn’t have TV, so we didn’t see the news. This was before social media, even before cell phones and texting had become prominent. News didn’t travel as fast then.
I skipped chapel and went to the basement of Aslan’s Howe and turned on the news. It was unreal.
After a couple of hours of watching, it was time for lunch. We were sitting around talking about what we couldn’t believe had happened. Multnomah is relatively close to the Portland International Airport. In the lawn where we were eating, you could usually see many planes landing and taking off. But not that day. There were no planes in the skies except for F-15’s that would go screaming across the sky from time to time.
I remember hanging flags in the back windows of my car. And I remember a patriotic parade a couple of days later in Portland. A parade of cars and individuals expressing their patriotism.
That was 14 years ago today.
A lot has happened in 14 years. There have been other horrific events. There have been other joyous occasions. 14 years is a long time. I got married and had 4 kids. I’ve worked at 5 different churches. I’ve lived in 6 different houses/apartments.
That’s a lot of water under the bridge.
My oldest is 9 years old. She wasn’t alive. She doesn’t remember. She’s in the 4th grade. There are 7th and 8th graders who don’t remember. In 4-5 years, all the students in school will have been born after 9/11.
And I’ll be honest, I’m worried. I’m worried about what our kids are going to hear and learn about this fateful day. There are theories that stray from the truth of what happened. There are crazy conspiracy theories about what this day was. And I’m worried about what my kids and others are going to believe about this day.
This day isn’t political.
This day isn’t about a conspiracy by our government against our own nation.
This day isn’t a chance to promote an agenda.
This day isn’t an opportunity to attack capitalism and our country.
This day isn’t even about war.
Unfortunately, all these things and more are what this day has become. We have defrauded the families of the victims and repurposed a day of mourning to be a day to promote our stance on something.
What is this day about? Of course it’s about the pain and suffering of those who lost loved ones. It’s about mourning their loss. It’s about the lives of the heroic police officers and firemen/women who gave their lives trying to save others. It’s about the attack of thousands of civilians who were murdered. (Yes war is awful. But this wasn’t war. It was a murderous attack.)
But, I think there’s something more this day is about too. Something that has been lost in our time. In only a few short years, it has disappeared.
I could be wrong. If I am, I mean no disrespect to the families of the victims. But today is also about unity. Our country was unified in a way we may never again experience. On that day, and the weeks and months that followed, we were like minded. We mourned with those who mourned. We wept with those who wept. We were all a part of this tragedy.
We use this phrase ‘never forget’ as we talk about this day. Did you know that phrase originated from the holocaust? How many of us truly understand the depth of the tragedy that took place on that day? We don’t know a lot of the horrific details of what occurred as places like Auschwitz.
Like the holocaust, we face the same danger of forgetting this day. Our kids won’t know unless we tell them. If we don’t tell them, we run the risk of them believing whatever cockamamie conspiracy most suites their fancy. But, if we tell them…if we remind them…if we remember, we do the best service we can offer to those who were lost.
Especially as so many seek to use this day for their own agendas and purposes. If we remember the pain and horror of this day, we honor those who were lost. We dishonor them by allowing conspiracies and agendas to cloud this day. We dishonor them by taking this day and using it for our own gain. But, if we remember what happened, if we mourn with those who mourn, if we remember what actually and really happened on this day, we honor those who were lost.
Do you remember?