Ongoing Lessons from 9/11

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 occurs this year, 2021. 

That day changed the way we Americans think and introduced all of us to a new kind of fear, an underlying anxiety. 

Blog. 9.11 bldgs. 9.17Even now, television replays and photos of that day shock us and remind us of the ongoing horror and the sorrowful days that followed.

Some ask what good does it do to remember because no one can rewrite one second of that day?

Yet we must remember, if only to recall to our minds that 9/11 changed life as we knew it and ushered in extensive safety and security restrictions as "normal" in our daily lives. 

Perhaps we need the annual reminder that life is fragile and each one of us is vulnerable at any moment of any day.

It could have been any of us that happened to be in the World Trade Center at that exact moment  

Less than two months before 9/11, a friend and I sat in the the glass-walled Observation Tower on the top floor of one of those Twin Towers.

It was my first time in Manhattan and I loved it.

My husband and I lived in Washington state and I sang with a community choral group. In July of 2001 our Chorus traveled across the country to give a few concerts. New York City was to be our second stop.

First we sang for a large national church conference group in Washington, D.C.

Our performances ended mid-afternoon. That gave most of our chorus members ample time to head on over to the U.S. Capitol. We all knew from watching past Independence Day celebrations on TV that's what was scheduled for the evening of July 4th.  

Now we--with no prior arrangements whatsoever--wanted to watch it up close and personal, so we decided to chance it whether we could find a place among the mass of attendees. After all, the hotel clerk said, "Just walk on over and find a place to sit."

A carefree July 4 in DC  

About sunset a group of us singers/sightseers found empty spots where we could perch on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. 

Not a barrier in sight. No fenced-off areas. All around us people were strolling about freely.  

It seemed like a photo-shoot of America. The grounds were filled with folks of all ages and every color, many conversing in unfamiliar (to us) languages. Some people spread their blankets and picnics on the Capitol lawn. Some put out lawn chairs brought from home and positioned themselves to get the best view of the stage show and fireworks to come. Kids did what kids do, playing tag and running around between blankets and chairs.

We all mingled peaceably and it seemed every face wore a smile.

Those in our group talked of how amazing and wonderful it was that such large crowds could gather so close to the Nation's Capitol building. One said, "It all reminds you what it means to live in a free country, doesn't it?"

Not one of us imagined this would be the last time crowds assembled for Independence Day--or any day--would enjoy such freedom of access.  

Next day we were off to New York City to give another performance 

We had some personal time earlier in the day. My friend had been there many times and insisted we must go to the Twin Towers, because "Everyone needs to go up on top and just look out at least one time in their lives."

We took the elevator to the top, the Observation floor, which featured glass walls that stretched around most of that floor. We found empty seats in the front row and sat for perhaps 20 minutes with our knees pressed against the glass.  

Then I walked all around the roomy space, awed by the evidence of God's creative hand in the beauty of land and sea and sky on all sides. That grandeur touched my heart way more than the works of man, the impressive skyscrapers that dwarfed the Empire State Building. 

A couple of smiling security guards watched as we came in and when we left, simply observing the people who were there. Nothing more.

Nothing more was needed.  

That night our Chorus performed at a concert hall, complete with orchestra.  (I kept pinching myself.) Once again, no complex security requirements. Audience members needed only a ticket. We performers simply walked in the Stage Entrance. One Security guard, casually keeping watch. No hassle, just walk in.

My heart brimmed over on that trip and on our flight home, thanking God that I was able to be included in that "dream" trip.

And so blessed to live in these United States of America.

Who could have known these would be "before" freedoms?

On 9/11, life changed. For all of us. Never again would we take it for granted that we were safe, simply because we lived in the United States of America.

Ever since, there's been an underlying sense of fear and watchfulness, as if collectively, we were waiting for "next time." 

Since 9/11, nobody without proper credentials strolls aimlessly through the U.S. Capitol grounds--or anywhere else in public buildings or grounds of Washington, D.C. Or in most other Government buildings, whether national or state.  

How have we come safely through these past years? We may credit this Administration or that Administration. We may reel off a long list of agencies and personnel and give credit where, yes absolutely, credit is due.

Yet every expert in every field tells us the best efforts by the best people remain insufficient. No agency, no amount of armed guards, no amount of money spent for the latest defense equipment, can guarantee the safety of this Nation--nor of us as individuals.

Evil is real. Evil exists all around us, just as it has since Eden. To consider Evil an outdated concept is akin to burying one's head in the sand.

The ongoing lesson is this: Only one sure Defense exists 

By now we all know very well that people and programs are not enough to keep us safe. We need Help that will never fail us. Where can we turn?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Psalm 46:1  ESV

Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.    Proverbs 30:5  ESV 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.   Deuteronomy 31:6  NIV

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?   Romans 8:31  ESV

As a Nation, as individuals, we could not be in better hands--on this day or any day of any year.  

May God bless America, indeed, and keep us safe, both now and in the future!

And, Gentle Reader, may you know His peace in your heart and in your life, the peace that passes all human understanding.  

Trusting and praying, too,


September 05, 2018

December 28, 2016


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