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I Remember

Tomorrow we will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. I suspect we will all be asking the question, “Do you remember what you were doing when you heard the news?” For my part, I want to report that I remember.
As I woke up on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was reminiscing about the sermon I had preached the Sunday before wondering if it had any impact on those who heard it. The sermon was entitled, “Prophet or Loss Statements.” One of the main points was, “The Gospel Provides a Secure Future,” with a reference to Isaiah 2:4, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Also included in that sermon was a story about the demolition of the Kingdome in Seattle on March 26, 2000. “A Maryland-based company, Controlled Demolition Incorporated, was hired to do the job of imploding the 25,000-ton structure that had marked Seattle’s skyline for two dozen years. Remarkable about the event was the extreme measures taken to ensure no one was hurt.” Both of these statements took on a shocking reality that morning. We obviously were not in the secure future the prophet Isaiah was talking about since a new kind of war had just been initiated. In contrast to the extreme measures taken by the demolition company in Seattle to protect life, extreme measures had been taken by a group of terrorists to destroy life.
I remember standing in stunned disbelief with a cup of coffee in my hand watching TV as the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center. It was hard to comprehend that it was actually happening. It seemed so surreal, so impossible, so unthinkable that anyone would actually perform such a horrendous act. Thoughts flooded my mind, the world will never be the same, the rules have changed, a whole lot of regular people just paid the price for the evil intentions of men.
I remember thinking, This event is taking place a long way from where I live. I wonder if anyone I know will be personally affected? It didn’t take long to realize we would all be personally affected. By 9 am PST, I received a phone call from a member of our church whose dad was in charge of a large number of employees in the WTC. The family had not heard from him and was understandably worried. As the day passed, they finally heard he was safe but a number of those who worked for him lost their lives. Another friend of mine was supposed to be in a meeting in the WTC. For some reason, his boss decided to do a conference call instead of a face to face to meeting from San Francisco with colleagues in New York. My friend was talking to his counterpart on his cell phone as he heard him pass away in the collapse. The sounds of that conversation will echo in his mind forever.
I remember the story shifting from tragedy to a focus on the heroes. It was awful watching the devastation and desperation of people but as the day progressed, my focus began to shift to the unnamed heroes who went into action. Policemen, firemen, EMT staff, medical professionals and volunteers selflessly jumped into action because it was the right thing to do. I will never forget a quote I read from an individual who was running down the stairs of one of the targeted buildings. “As we were running down, the firemen were running up. They were committed to save lives without regard to what it might cost them. I looked into the eyes of these real heroes and I was no longer afraid.”
To the heroes who serve us every day without ever demanding they be recognized I say, “Thank you.” To a faithful God who provides His presence, comfort and love through every circumstance of life I say, “Thank you.” To those who lead us and continue to provide a land where we can live free I say, “Thank you.” And to all who were tragically affected on September 11, 2001 I simply say, We Will Remember.

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