Remembering the Day That Everything Changed – September 11, 2001

This is the second of my reflections on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11.

Maybe it is because I feel as if I owe my life to the brave passengers on United Flight 93 — if indeed that plane-turned-weapon was directed towards the U.S. Capitol.

Or maybe it is because for my friends from Sudan/South Sudan, both Christian and Muslim, “9/11 was 24/7…and 365.” After all, I was at the Rayburn House Office Building that morning, waiting to begin a press conference on why there should be capital market sanctions against companies that did business with the Islamic Republic of Sudan because of Sudan’s connections to terrorism.

Terrorism! Hah! We didn’t have a CLUE until that morning.

Or maybe it is because for months after 9/11 I poured over every bio sketch of every innocent man, woman, and child that the terrorists had taken from us. There were stories of grandmothers on their way to visit grandchildren, young men just starting out in their careers, flight attendants that fought with everything they had to thwart the jihadists’ plans, proud immigrants working in the service industry, Irish American firemen and police from a long line of Irish American firemen and police, and so, so many others. Like my friend from church, Angie, a civilian Naval Intelligence Watch Officer at the Pentagon.

So that’s why I am not getting over 9/11.

I add a caveat. Not getting over 9/11 until the dawn of the New Heaven and New Earth. When the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness, and every wrong is made right, every tear is wiped away by God Himself, then  we will see as we are seen, and there will be no room or reason for grief.

The dazzling Lamb that was slain, the vast multitude that no one can count, the joy of seeing the Ineffable One face to face will make getting over 9/11 quite simple. Until then we live with — if not an unhealed wound — at least a scar that reminds us of the death of innocence and ushering in of an irrational world turned upside down.

It doesn’t mean that we have to hate, although some on the Left will say, as they always do, that speaking truth is “hate” (truth has long been the new “hate speech”). They say that just remembering is hate. And besides, who are we to be upset for what we so richly deserved, we white nationalist, racist, privileged, wicked Americans!

It doesn’t mean that we can’t forgive, although some on the Right believe that it is betrayal to forgive unforgivable evil. They think that we must have dismissed that evil — not understanding that forgiveness, real forgiveness, is only present when evil is truly acknowledged, not denied. The Spirit of God enables us to say “even though” and to not allow ourselves to be controlled by that evil.

That Kingdom has not yet come. The evil in this world continues, not knowing that its time is limited by God Himself. And that some day, when those suffering and martyred cry out “How long, O Lord, how long?” His response that It Is Finished will thunder through the whole earth and echo in our ears — filling some with incomparable joy and filling some with unbelievable dread.

Until then, I will continue to remember 9/11,  and to honor those who died then, and those heroic First Responders and valiant men and women of our armed forces that have given all.

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