On this 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, the phrase often featured on signs and memorials reads simply, “Never Forget.” Yet, what is it that we are not supposed to forget? In the days and weeks following the attacks there were many feelings of anger and hatred and a desire for revenge. Our scripture readings today encourage us not to try remember these feelings of hurt and anger, but rather to have a heart of forgiveness. While certainly we resolve that we will never forget those who died, there are some other things that we as a nation would do well to “Never Forget.”
Before 9/11 many in our country didn’t think very much about God. Things seemed to be going well and our country and our lives seemed strong and invincible. Many proudly claimed that we didn’t even need God any more. On 9/11 and the weeks following, the country prayed. We went to church. We knew how much we needed God and how only trust in him who brings good out of evil could make any sense of such sad events.
Before 9/11 many of us took our families for granted. It seemed that our lives would go on forever and that we had plenty of time to make needed changes later. On 9/11, the people in the planes that had the chance to make one last phone call or scribble a few hurried words before the planes impacted almost universally had the same wish. They weren’t worried about money or their sports teams. They simply wanted to tell their family that they loved them. Many family members left behind wished the same.
Before 9/11 it seemed that America was divided and so many people were only selfishly focused on what was in their own best interest. Other people didn’t matter so long as I got what I wanted. On 9/11 we saw average Americans become heroes. As the twin towers were falling we know that they were filled with fighters and police racing to get into those towers to help people. In the following weeks thousands of young men and women volunteered to protect our country by joining the military. 9/11 brought the country together around the common desire to help others.
There are many things to remember about 9/11. Most people alive then can remember where they were. On this anniversary, let us resolve not try to remember the past anger and hatred. Rather, I pray that we might once again be reminded of how we learned what was really important on that day. May we never forget how much we need God. May we never forget how special our family and friends are. May we never forget the great pride and sense of community we found when each of us cared about others more than ourselves. These are truly worthy things. These are things that I hope we will “Never Forget.”