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Tag Archive | "remember"

Remembering 9/11


Students at Cedar View Elementary created this hand flag in 2001 with special messages for rescue workers. It hung in St. Paul’s Cathedral, where over 1 million people took their messages of hope to heart.

By Judy Reed, Editor

Some things are just hard to forget.
September 11, 2001, was a beautiful day. The kids were in school, and I was at home, living the life of a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom. Feeling safe and secure. And then the phone rang. It was my mother, telling me I better turn on the television, that something was happening. When I did, newscasters were trying to make sense of why a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It looked like a bad accident. Only, a couple of minutes later, I watched as another plane flew into the other tower and burst into flames. I thought for a second that I was watching a replay. Then I realized in horror that I wasn’t. We were under attack from some unknown source. And I didn’t feel so safe anymore.

From top to bottom: the World Trade Center burning; a section of The Pentagon collapses; Flight 175 crashes into 2 WTC; a fireman requests help at Ground Zero; an engine from Flight 93 is recovered.

Most people I’ve talked to have similar stories. They know where they were and what they were doing at 8:45 a.m. when the first plane hit. The second one hit 18 minutes later. Then at 9:45 a.m., a third jet slammed into the Pentagon. What we didn’t know at the time was that each of these planes had been hijacked by Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist group and they were filled with American people—innocent victims, just like those killed in each of the buildings. Each one of those travelers thought they were going to California that morning.
Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the Pentagon, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. At 10:30 a.m., the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center attack, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 other people were treated for injuries.
A fourth plane never made it to its target, thanks to the heroic efforts of some of the passengers, who attacked the hijackers in the cockpit. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett, Jr., told his wife over the phone, “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” Another passenger, Todd Beamer, was heard saying, “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll” over an open line. That plane’s target was unknown, but the people aboard probably saved many lives while sacrificing their own.
The attacks left many feeling hopeless. But the people in Cedar Springs showed they were made of sterner—and more compassionate—stuff. In the days immediately following, churches everywhere opened their doors for prayer meetings. A national day of prayer was decreed, and churches were open to help those looking for divine strength and understanding. Even the schools observed a moment of silence on that day. More people turned out for the monthly blood drive at the United Methodist Church than they could handle. A special salute was done before the Friday football game in honor of the rescue personnel lost. A separate memorial service was organized and held at Skinner Field to honor and remember victims of the tragedy. Wolverine World Wide sent 2,100 pairs of boots to New York City firefighters. Kids saved nickels and dimes to give to the Red Cross.
One of the acts of kindness that will live on indefinitely was created by students at Cedar View Elementary—fourth and fifth graders. The flag they created stretched from the ceiling to the floor in the school hallway. The stripes were made up of hand cut outs on which the students had written special messages such as, “I’m sorry for all the people who lost their family members,” “Thank you survivors who went back and tried to save other people,” “Thank you for donating blood, thank you for putting out fires,” “We are praying for the police, fireman and doctors,” and “I’m glad to be an American.” They sent the banner to New York City when it was completed, and it hung in St. Paul’s Chapel where rescue workers went to take breaks. Someone even sent back pictures of it hanging in the chapel. When it was taken down, it went to the Smithsonian for their 9/11 exhibit, and the special picture shown on the front page was sent to Cedar View Elementary, thanking them on behalf of all the rescue workers and one million visitors to St. Paul’s Chapel who were touched by the school’s gift of love, creativity and compassion. Those students graduated in 2009 and 2010 and can proudly say they were part of something special.
When we remember 9/11 this weekend and honor the memories of those lost, let’s try to remember more than just the horrible event. Let’s try to remember the feeling of camaraderie, of loving our neighbors, helping those less fortunate, what it means to be kind to one another, what it really means to give. I think the people who lost their lives that day would want it that way.

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I remember


Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

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.

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