Eight years ago today, I was twelve years old. I remember my mother turning on the television after receiving a troubling phone call only to see smoke plumes pouring from a gaping hole in one of the two main towers of the World Trade Center. Soon after that, the second plane hit, people began to jump out of the windows to fall to their death, and then the towers fell. It has been eight years, but I remember that day as if it were yesterday. And I do not even know anyone who was personally affected by losing someone to the attacks. But I feel the memories and I see the images so vividly that it would not be a big stretch for me to say that it changed my life in certain ways.
This day never passes without a heavy, sobering weight being laid upon my heart. It is always encouraging to me when I see an attitude of respect directed towards the events of eight years ago and to the people who were affected by them. I am very proud of President Obama for his encouraging words this morning and for the personal time he gave to the families of the victims all while standing in a torrential downpour of rain that caused him and the First Lady to become absolutely soaked by the time they were finished.
I am also very proud of the reaction from the University of Texas and, for once, the Daily Texan – our university newspaper. There is a conservative student organization that has annually placed 3,000 miniature U.S. flags on the south lawn of the campus in honor of the victims of 9/11. For me, it is always a moving thing to see. And last year, I volunteered to help place those flags and it was a really great experience for me. Above all, I was very surprised by the Daily Texan’s reaction. The article today covered how people in the Austin community are organizing to do service work today in honor of those who lost their lives as well as those who are overseas fighting a war for our freedom. I say all of this because I was quite upset with the paper last year which published two articles on the occasion and both of them centralized around and debated the legitimacy of conspiracy theories. Personally, I think it is idiotic to believe these “theories,” as they are so aptly termed. Especially in light of nationally recognized and well-funded reports by Popular Mechanics, The National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other well respected institutions. And it is giving way too much credit to the people in our government and their abilities. Therefore, it was encouraging for me to see an article that devoted itself to a positive response to the attacks instead of empty and lifeless claims against an “evil mastermind” in charge of our country.
Eight years ago, we saw evil displayed in a way that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. We saw a response from a community that conquered fear and responded to one another in love and support. The remembrance of this day should not be one that chains us to the past and leaves us wallowing in its devastation. It should not be one that drives us towards so desperate a need for an answer that we create stories in order to simplify the situation. And it should not even be one that causes us a deeper sense of patriotism. America is widely considered to be the greatest and most powerful country in the world and I will not dispute this. But regardless of its greatness, it is still prone to the evils of man. It is still vulnerable. Therefore, our perspective should not deepen towards our country so much as it should towards our faith in God. I think today should be an occasion that drives us towards prayer. Whether it be for the families of the victims, the leaders of our country, or even the terrorists themselves I think this should be our response. Isaiah 40:17 says,
All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
Our eyes need to be fastened on our Father in Heaven because He is the one who gives us peace in times of trouble. And He intends all things to be for our good. The realization in this moment must be that our world, our country, and our abilities are vulnerable and inadequate. But our God is not. May today be an opportunity for us to rest in that.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
And to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
And young men shall fall exhausted;
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.