Everyone who is old enough remembers where they were on this day, twenty years ago. September 11, 2001 is indelibly burned into our memories. I was at work, in Albany, Georgia, when a coworker came into my area and proclaimed, “Airplanes are crashing into buildings!” As I recall, the second tower had just been struck. That day was tragic and scary as a number of planes were unaccounted for over a period of a few hours. The fact that even the Pentagon could be hit was sobering. My father and sister were visiting and stayed with me longer than expected, as all air travel was shut down for a while. I had never been to New York City, or Washington DC, but my heart broke for those who lost loved ones or their own lives. Three years later, the attack became even more real to me as I spent a summer doing an internship in New York City and toured “Ground Zero”. I talked to New Yorkers about that fateful day. I remember military guards around some of the larger buildings. It was hard to believe we needed that in the United States of America, but those terrorists had shown us our world is not as secure as we thought. The presence of evil is very real in this world, and there are people who want to cause pain and suffering for others.
Over the last two decades, the world has seen more pain and suffering, as it had for millennia before 9/11/01. There has not been another attack of that magnitude on the US, thanks to the vigilance of the US armed forces and the grace of God.
As I reflect on what I learned from September 11, I am struck with two great truths. First, nothing is promised to us. We do not know whether our office or our company will be around tomorrow, or even whether we will be alive. We should take nothing for granted. Be thankful for today and prepared for tomorrow. Don’t wait to let loved ones know how much we appreciate them. Above all, make sure we are right with God. Second, love triumphs over hate. I was encouraged by the patriotism and charity that were ubiquitous after that terrible day. American flags were flying everywhere as people expressed their love for their country. Even more importantly, people did what they could to help those affected. We banded together, drew close to our loved ones, and worked to build back. Churches were filled as people sought God. Political feuds were dropped, as we rallied together as Americans. I am grateful to be part of such a great and resilient nation, and especially thankful to those who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places to root out terrorists so we can live in peace.
There are a lot of serious disagreements in this current climate, but I want to see the patriotism and hope that was exhibited after September 11. Let’s be thankful for what we have, and work to build others up in love. Love will conquer hate.