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Monday, May 2, 2016

Ten years later: What have we learned?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

These are not happy memories.

The visions from that day, nearly 10 years old now, still chill us and many of us would like nothing better than to let this anniversary pass, the wounds still too fresh for picking.

In the newsroom, however, everyone has been helping to compile collective memories for a special tab and I prepared five radio broadcasts for KNGN 1360 AM, recalling columns written immediately after the terrorist attacks and in the weeks and months following.

I suppose, in some ways, it is helpful to revisit the past, if only to see how far we've come, 10 years later.

In the days immediately following the attack, there was a resurgence of patriotism, young men and women lined up at recruitment offices, flags flew freely from every available space and people, hand-in-hand and heart-to-heart, reached across the chasms of lifestyle, race, social standing, religion and politics that on Sept. 10, had divided them.

Church attendance was up, public prayer a common event, with nary a naysayer to be found, our emotions were at fever pitch. We drew together to comfort, to help. to weep. Nearly eight months after the attacks, Gregg Roberts, a lay pastor in McCook, went at the behest of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, to help the Ground Zero workers who labored every day in the recovery effort. SBC had arrived on-scene Sept. 12, and they rotated volunteers who worked tens of thousands of volunteer days on-site, served 4,000 meals each day, and provided showers, rest rooms and laundry facilities for the workers. When Roberts arrived on April 1, 2002, the sidewalk in front of St. Paul's Church in downtown Manhattan was still filled with memorials, flags and flowers, the mourning city refreshing the scene daily.

Although I don't believe the axiom, "Time heals all wounds," is completely accurate, time certainly does dull all wounds, each passing day adding another layer of padding, the wound growing less sensitive unless someone strips back the the layers of bandaging, exposing again raw nerves and weeping sores.

Today, young men and women are still lining up at the recruitment offices for military service, but mostly because jobs in the private sector are hard to come by and offer little security.

Flags still fly, but the patriotism that saw them fly unfettered in the blue skies of September 2001, has ebbed and citizens are now caught up in neighborhood covenant battles that dictate when, or even if, Old Glory can be displayed. Partisan politics seems to be the newest blood sport and the term "racist" is applied to nearly everyone, regardless of color or creed, that dares to utter dissent, on either side of the aisle.

Sadly, even the community prayers that were so prevalent in the days immediately following the attacks have all but disappeared, clergy reportedly not even invited to participate in some of the planned memorial events.

No, time hasn't healed all wounds, but it has certainly dulled those fever-pitch emotions that defined this nation 10 years ago, and we are now just as we were on Sept. 10, 2001. Complacent, careless, even neglectful, we have forgotten the most important truths revealed 10 years ago as the towers fell.

The fever-pitch of emotion is unsustainable. We are not designed to operate at that level of intensity for long.

This is why it is so important to hold onto truth, however, whenever you find it. Truth endures. It does not change. If it could, it would not be truth.

* "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Psalm 20:7

As heart-stirring as it is to gaze upon the Stars and Stripes unfurled with a September blue sky as the backdrop, there is no power nor protection in its shadow against the evil that men do. True peace is only found in the shadow of the cross.

* "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." Matthew 6:19

Every thing made by men is destined for destruction. Weather, time and use take their toll; and violent men reveal our vulnerabilities just as they did on the day when those two strong towers fell.

* "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Time may not heal all wounds, but the heart-healing that comes as we pray is eternal. Wounds bound by our gentle Shepherd leave no lasting scars. When his bandages are removed, even the wounds inflicted by a violent enemy are found to have succumbed to his healing balm.

* "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" Hebrews 9:27.

Of the 2,997 people who died Sept. 11, 2001, some died unreconciled, unforgiven, even unknown and unlamented, save for the national lament that arose for each one.

Some who left home that morning, left behind the reverberation of angry words or a slamming door.

Some who harbored resentment or bitterness that day perhaps saw the futility of those emotions seconds before annihilation.

Some had planned a secret tryst, harboring the sin of infidelity in their hearts.

And of those who had lost everything to addiction or mental illness, their families far from their thoughts, all chance of reconciliation was forfeited that day.

How we live, today, matters. Because, regardless of how we die, we all die. Today, while we yet have opportunity, let us consider that the truth found in Luke 12:20 will come to us all, "Tonight your soul is required of you" and live accordingly. Keep short accounts. Forgive freely. Love extravagantly.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10 (NIV)

I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.


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