I have struggled with what to write today and even whether or not to write today at all. I came to the conclusion that it’s important for us to remember and recount history that we lived through. You see, I wasn’t alive when President Kennedy was shot or when most of our major wars started or ended. However, I know about those events from family that lived during those times, remembered those times, and then shared those times. When devastating things happen, the time is marked in our minds as a landmark of sorts.
My earliest landmark memory involving our country was the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. I was in the fifth grade. I remember where I was sitting and where the television was in the room. I remember sitting and watching the news coverage with my class. The next big landmark memory would probably be the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I was a sophomore in high school. For some reason I was home that day. I guess I was sick. I remember watching the news coverage from our family room couch. Those types of things are marked permanently in our minds.
Then, there was September 11, 2001. I was a month into a new school year at a new school after taking three years off from teaching to be with my kids. I taught Kindergarten. The day had barely started. My assistant, Joy, went to take attendance to the office. When she walked back in the room, eyes moist and red, fighting tears, I knew something was wrong. She walked over to me and quietly told me that an airplane had hit one of the Twin Towers. We did not turn on the tv since we had very young children in the room. Instead, she would check in with the office periodically.
All four of our children attended the same school where I taught. I knew exactly where they were, but I remember that pit in my stomach just wanting my family to all be together. Having a classroom full of 5 year olds…just babies…was both distracting and sobering. Many parents came and took their children home. For those left in the classroom, we kept things as normal as possible, but spent even more time just loving on our students.
One of the things that I remember most was the fear! Our school was not far from a major army base. While that could have been a comfort, I recall wondering if military bases would be next. If so, what would that mean for our families, our students, our communities. That fear was accompanied by the reality that many families who were whole a few hours earlier were now fractured beyond our imagination. Pure heartbreak.
Then, came September 12th! While our spirits, as a country, were crushed we were not destroyed. What an amazing unity washed over our country like I had never seen before. People put aside their differences . Patriotism flourished. Petty disagreements didn’t matter. For that matter, even bigger disagreements seemed petty. People turned to God. Prayer became a norm instead of an exception.
I’m not a political writer. I don’t tend to share my political views with many. I personally think much of our current disunity is because of the way politics are handled these days. I think we’d do well to remember how we responded after the tragedy of 9/11. (I get that not all the reactions/responses were great, but overall our country was much more unified than now.)
Today, I will remember. For as long as my brain works, I will remember. But simply remembering is not enough. Let’s work together to make our country, our world, a better place. Do something today to show someone unconditional love, the kind of love that doesn’t look at our differences. Find ways to unite instead of divide. Grab hold of and follow the two greatest commandments…
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”Matthew 22:36-40 New English Translation (NET Bible)