We seem to be divided between those who say, “never forget,” and those who say, “well, it’s really time to move on,” — maybe not to forget, but not to remember, either.
I’m sure there will be posts on the various channels of Patheos today advising that it is time to put 9/11 behind us. Some, including President Obama, have attempted to transform the anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack into a “day of service.” Others have worried that focusing on the murder of thousands of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and friends and lovers by jihadists is divisive. And in just one more demonstration of dhimmitude, some ministries that focus on Muslim evangelism have scolded that it is time for Christians to “get over” September 11 so they don’t alienate their Muslim brothers and sisters.
But I will never forget. My personal reflections on various aspects of September 11 are in the following links, written on the anniversary of the attacks over a number of years.
Several of my personal reflections focus on the parallels between the jihadist attack of Al Qaeda against American and the jihadist attacks by the Islamist Government of Sudan against the innocent people of Sudan and what is now South Sudan.
Ironically, our Sudan coalition was holding a press conference on the need for capital market sanctions against companies doing business with the regime in Khartoum because of its terrorist connections. That press conference was interrupted by our own terrorist attack, and never took place.
That September morning people flooded out of the city and then remained for hours without moving on every street and highway. I spent most of the day lying in the hatchback of a two-seater sports car, as four of us who had been at the press conference attempted to travel back to Virginia. Along the way, we had news of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. And when we heard of the plane, headed for DC, that went down in Pennsylvania, we knew that those brave passengers well may have saved our lives.
I have also reflected on how everything changed irrevocably after September 11. Although most of us didn’t realize it, we, America, the West, were already engaged in a life-and-death struggle against evil forces that had taken control. We only became aware of it when the planes hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and crashed into the Shanksville, PA field.
There are many other reflections I have written over the years, focusing on individuals that died that day, and on others that died later — but as a result of their heroism as first responders. These are all available on the IRD Juicy Ecumenism blog. One final piece I will share the link to here is a tribute to my young friend and fellow church member Angie Houtz, who was one of the jihadist victims killed at the Pentagon. Angie served her country, as a Senior Analyst in Naval Intelligence, and she served the homeless, feeding the street people of Washington, DC every Thursday night with the “Grate Patrol.”
Shortly after 9/11, when the magnitude of the loss our country had endured was still incomprehensible, I bought 9/11/01 Portraits: Collected Portraits of Grief from the New York Times. Every night I would read about a few more people who are captured in short biographies on its pages.
I encourage you to look at the list of names, in addition to books such as the one I mentioned, you can find them here or here. It is a list that seems to go on and on forever, so that you want to scroll through it as quickly as possible to convince yourself that really is an end to the horror.
Look at the faces of those who gave their lives saving others, remember those who decided to jump from the Twin Towers to their death, taking the power of choosing the way they would die away from the jihadists, and imagine what their last moments on earth were like. If you are able, muster up the courage to listen to some of the last recorded moments of our fellow human beings lives’ in the phone calls that are now available.
At least I hope you need to muster up the courage. I hope you are still in shock from September 11, 2001. I hope that you will never get over it.