By Ronnie McBrayer
Each September since 9/11, when the proper and solemn remembrance ceremonies begin, I am tempted to believe the now faded bumper stickers that read, “We Will Never Forget.” Not true. We will forget. No, those who lived in the cities directly attacked, those who huddled around television sets as bewildered and confused witnesses, and those who buried their loved ones murdered in the attacks will never forget that morning a decade ago.
But those following us will forget. They are not calloused or forgetful. They are simply too young. Most of the students who entered college this fall were in elementary school ten years ago, and many of this generation (including my own children), were even younger or not yet born.
Yes, I want my children (and the generations to come) to remember and reflect upon these events. But I do not want them to cloud their memories with the notion that the “world was changed forever on 9/11,” for it was not. Violence, retaliation, the suffering of the innocent, and the struggle for power have been around for all of human history. 9/11, rather than changing that status quo, was another brutal, heart-rending chapter in the same narrative. To say that 9/11 is the defining, irreversible mark on human history is to give evil and injustice far too much credit; and for followers of Jesus to say such a thing, it is a loss faith.
Whenever Christians gather, they gather to remember, celebrate, and hopefully integrate into their lives a profound event from the past, an event to which the Eucharist and the Creeds point: “Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and was buried; but on the third day he rose again.” This is the defining event of our past, the memory we will never forget, and the trajectory for our future.
Yes, I will bow and say a prayer for those taken from us a decade ago. I will give thanks for the rescue workers, firefighters, and those who tried to save and serve the hurt and dying. I will ask God to assuage the sorrow of the families and friends left to grieve. But when I am finished praying, I will work for peace; I will seek to overcome evil with good; I will pursue the example of Jesus; and I will teach my children to remember properly. Remember that grace, not hate, will have the final word.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.