anniversary of that devastating day when four hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a field in rural Pennsylvania.
In many ways, September 11th has become to the younger generations what John Kennedy’s assassination was to the older generations. Most of us can probably remember where we were and what we were doing when we got the news, turned on the TV, looked on the internet, or heard on the radio about these attacks. The above image of the Twin Towers conjures up so many different emotions within me.
We are people whose lives are embedded in story. Many of us, when asked questions, will answer with our own form of a story. To some of us, the term “story” means that it’s made up, but that’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about the story of our lives, the events that have come together to shape us and make us who we are. All of us have stories to tell, it’s just a question of whether or not we will be bold enough to tell them and share them with others.
I have a picture on my work computer desktop of my mom with my oldest son. Every time that I login to my computer and see the picture, it’s painful. The pain of loss is still very fresh to me. But what happens when it is no longer painful? It will still serve as a reminder to me; it will help me remember Mom and how much she meant to me and my whole family. As long as I have a way of remembering, I will not forget.
We are forgetful people. After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, it was pretty neat to see what happened in our country. Having been born in New York and spending some time there in my formative years and beyond, it’s pretty easy to notice the “New York State of Mind.” There is always an attitude among New Yorkers that is unparalleled anywhere else. On the street, no one looks you in the eye. If you have ever seen the movie “Crash” it could be compared to Don Cheadle’s introductory monologue and his experience in Los Angeles. But after 9/11, things changed.
People would look each other in the eyes. There would be more personal greetings. There were words spoken with simple head nods and glances. People actually seemed to care for each other. There was a genuine love and concern for our fellow man and woman. There was a patriotism that happened in the past when major wars were waged. The country came together, we were united.
We also began to see our own mortality. We sensed that there was something more than just us. People began to take a second look at faith, reconnecting with what had been instilled in them when they were younger. Life had gotten in the way though, and they had neglected what had once been important to them.
But it didn’t take long for us to forget. It didn’t take long for us to begin to think that we really could do it on our own. We no longer needed our neighbors. We no longer needed our God. We no longer needed anyone else but ourselves. We could be independent. We could kick evil’s &%$ if we wanted to, we didn’t need any help. The sense of community that had been renewed in all of us started to take a backseat to what seemed to be more important in life.
We need reminders. We need to remember how it felt in those first days when the pain was still fresh. Not to be sadistic, but to help us to live. Just like a scar reminds us of an injury of days gone by, so reminders give us a glimpse into the past. If we do not remember, we forget. If we forget, we are destined to let history repeat itself. If we forget, we have learned nothing and we have not changed, have not been transformed.
I am a different person than I was 10 years ago. Some people have told me recently that I look 10 years younger since I cut my hair, but I wonder if they would say that I act the same as I did back then. I hope not. I hope that I have changed, that I am less like me and more like Christ. I hope that I have set up reminders for myself, reminders of who I used to be so that I will not be destined to revert back again.
The act of remembering is not always the most pleasant experience in the world, sometimes it hurts. But it is essential for us as we grow. Reminders are not just for the past but for the future as well. We enter into community with one another so that we can be reminders for each other, that is the beauty of community and the accountability that it creates.
I don’t ever want to be accused of being the same person that I was. I always want to be changing. The moment that I stop changing is the moment that I think I have arrived, when any sense of humility is thrown to the pavement. May we all continue to remember so that we do not forget and so that we will continue to change and be transformed. Always remember!