September 9, 2019
This week marks 18 years since the day that shook America to its core: September 11, 2001. Even as the years have created greater distance from that event, the memory of what happened has had an unforgettable impact.
Popular Christian pastor and author Max Lucado observes that the memory of September 11 has woven itself into the emotional fabric of our society, and unfortunately, we are still not free from the fear that gripped our country that day. “Violence [both through terroristic attacks and mass shootings] continues to tear at our country from within. The unthinkable stories of the innocent victims and instant heroes in these situations have seared our consciousness, leaving us reeling with grief and disbelief,” he writes. Destructive forces have “scarred our land and our people” and left us with “a famine of hope.”1
Yet there are ways to mark this day of somber remembrance and combat its legacy of grief and fear.
Signs of hope
First, remember that a spirit of hope is the key to overcoming despair about the memory of September 11, and we are in no way left alone to suffer on this earth. Lucado says that, “Joseph faced a famine in his day, and he focused all his efforts on bringing life and nourishment to all. As God’s people, let’s dispense courage and sustenance to our generation, offering a plan and a story of God’s help and goodness.”
Romans 8:31 tells us that we are more than conquerors: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? – New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Celebrate the heroes
Despite the losses of September 11 – nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations – we can take some comfort in knowing that in the worst of times, the best of humanity was also visible. After learning about the other attacks, passengers on Flight 93 (the fourth hijacked plane) fought back, diverting the path from its intended target of Washington, D.C.
We also know that more than 2,000 New York and Port Authority police officers secured the Twin Towers area, searched the Towers, and rescued survivors. Of these, more than 400 perished, but their legacy of bravery lives on in the hearts of those who are forever in their debt.
And in the wake of tragedy, we saw our country come together to honor the lives lost. In 2002, soon after the devastating attacks on America, a group of 9/11 family members and friends started a grassroots movement with the goal of “taking back the day” and “transforming 9/11 from a day of tragedy into a day of doing good.” In 2009, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act established September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
To honor the heroes of September 11, President Trump signed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund bill into law in July, permanently replenishing the fund that would benefit police, fire fighters, and other first responders who were harmed or killed because of the September 11 terrorist attack. Without this, the funding was set to run out by the end of 2020.
Give back to our country
An organization called 9/11 Day was also formed by family and friends of September 11 victims to support the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, with the goal of helping to turn a day of tragedy into a day of service. This year’s 9/11 Day organizers are emphasizing the opportunity to help fellow Americans struggling with hunger. On September 11, 2019, they plan to pack 3 million meals for people in need, and more than 12,000 volunteers will join together in eight cities to combat hunger.
Investing in a cause – whether it’s hunger, honoring our veterans and service members, or any number of worthy efforts – is one way to honor the day in a positive way.
Lastly, if you are able, you are encouraged to observe a moment (or moments) of silence the morning of September 11; the 9/11 Memorial offers suggestions for this practice.
On what is always a somber day of remembrance, let us take the time to remember what helps us transcend the worst of circumstances: hope, bravery, courage, faith, and ultimately love and service for each other.
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. www.Lockman.org