BY: ANDREW SVEDA, CONTRIBUTOR
Fifteen years ago, New Yorkers rose from their beds on a sunny morning, preparing their usual routines for a day at the office. For the last time, the sun reflected off of the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan, symbols of Liberty and Free Enterprise. It was September 11, 2001, a day that would not end in the manner it began with a bright and promising sky, but one of smoke, shrouding the city for days, and hazardous materials lingering in the air for years. This smoke spread through the state, the nation, and the world. We, as a people, were able to drop our personal schedules and mourn for all affected, those families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, teachers, and students. And we all became connected that dark day. Our nation rallied around not only our fellow man, but our country as well as patriotism began to soar to new heights in the new millennium. This strength in unity is best depicted through President George W. Bush’s televised speech on that horrendous day:
“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist attacks. These victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil – the very worst of human nature – and we responded with the best of America…”
In an hour of darkness, America found hope in the light at the end of the tunnel.
But now, things have changed for the worse. Nearly a quarter of the American public believe these terrorist attacks require “a different explanation” than what the U.S. Government has reported, and only 78% did confirm that this assault was a surprise “Attack on America”, meaning that 22% believed or were uncertain that the United States had prior knowledge of the events that were to take place this day fifteen years ago. Thankfully though, as the 2016 Presidential Election nears its final lap, both Clinton and Trump have agreed to halt their campaigns on 9/11 in an act of remembrance. Let us also take a break from politics today in order to truly honor those who lost their lives that terrible day…
Look up some information today. Look at the names and faces of the almost 3,000 men, women, and children who departed this Earth that horrific day. Think of their life, their families. If you are able, visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum or take an online tour. It is full of artifacts from 9/11, but it has a very special Memorial Exhibition. In this room, there is a never-ceasing presentation, which shows a brief biography of all of those brave people. It holds memories, stories, faces, and names of all victims who had this information available, which adds to 2,983 photos. It is when we reflect on this that we know the sheer magnitude of this disaster and how it affected so many lives personally, especially since the supermajority of those reading this have little to no memory of this day. For their memory not to be lost in the fog of forgetfulness, it is essential that we all remember them on this day, after fifteen long years. The wounds inflicted on that city and our globe will never heal, but it is our moral duty to comfort and mourn alongside them, despite if they possess different values than we hold. Honor these true patriots today.
Remember also a symbol that has been long forgotten by many, the Cross at Ground Zero. Amid the rubble of one of the greatest tests of our time, there stood a large steel cross that could not be shaken and remained “upright amid beams bent like fork tines”. It reminded the world of Christ’s presence and healing comfort as well as that reassuring Bible verse, in which Moses tells Israelites to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”. It touched and comforted the hearts of all to know God had not forgotten them in the mounds of steel and dust. People gathered together at this Cross. They supported each other and prayed together for healing and peace in this broken Earth.
And Man must continue to pray in a world that is even darker today than fifteen years ago. Let us pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones during this monstrous act of brutality, for the nation and globe as a whole, and light, peace, compassion, and a healing only God can provide. The Bible says that “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
So let us continue to remember and pray for those patriots who passed away on September 11, 2001 as well as their relatives, friends, and our world. Let us never forget them and honor them forever.