Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11 My Way

I am going to risk being chastised or criticized for this, but it’s the same feeling I have every year when 9/11 rolls around.  To be more specific, I don’t want to remember that day the way others want me to remember.

I say this, not because I am callous, cold, or have no compassion.  I vividly remember what I was doing and the heart and gut wrenching horror that swept over me as I watched the attack on our nation that fateful day.  And I will never forget the images and the grief so many suffered, nor the fear of what may come next.  Never.

I say this because I see in this generation an unhealthy need to tightly hold onto tragedy that occurs in our lives.  We are told that the only way to recover from it is to be constantly reminded, to seek help from secular “experts” who they say are the only ones equipped to help us deal with it in order to move on.  The Sunday after the attack upon the Twin Towers saw multitudes of people filling the pews and crying out to God for answers.  Horror consumed them and fear drove them there.  But it wasn’t long before those churches were once again back to their half-empty status as the memory of the terrible images grew dimmer.

The truth that it is best to always remember how and why certain things occur should never be questioned.  It is required of us so that we know how best to prevent it from happening again.  President Bush demonstrated courage and strength during the days, months, and years that followed, taking necessary steps to insure us that our nation was secure.  However, there are always those who “never let a good crisis go to waste” and use it to further their own goals and agendas.  If it can be used to advance them, they will say and do whatever benefits them the most to get there, even if it means lying to gain it.  And the results that followed have further divided our nation, instead of drawing us closer in unity.  I believe that the years following 9/11 have created a weaker, more fearful, and dependent generation, one that will never be able to overcome the adversities that were thrust upon us by terrorists bent upon our destruction.  It is a generation unable to heal and move on because we aren't allowed to.

I am old enough to remember family members who served in World War II and the Korean War and the stories they brought home with them.  They saw atrocities and suffered injuries I am positive they never forgot:  Pearl Harbor, the South Pacific, Normandy, to name just a few.  But there was a profound resolve in their makeup.  There was strength of character we so seldom see in this generation.  These men came home and put behind them the battles and the wounded and the dead.  Certainly, they never forgot, but they went on to lead peaceful and productive lives without the stigma of constant reminders.  Noted battles, defeats, and victories have been memorialized that we rightfully honor each year, and I am sure they relived in their own mind the role in which they took part.  But they seemed better able to handle the nightmares of war, not allowing their thoughts to consume and paralyze them when the images were recalled.

The final victory that our veterans shared in, and the rejoicing of a nation as they came home, overshadowed all that occurred to obtain it.  They carried that banner with them proudly throughout their lives and a grateful nation has continued to honor them for their selfless bravery.   And as we remember 9/11, we also honor those who gave their own lives to save another as the Twin Towers crumbled and crashed to the ground, the plane flew into the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93 plowed a trench into a Pennsylvania field.  But it’s how Americans remember that troubles me the most, and what we must endure to be prodded to remember and begs the question whether or not we have truly healed and moved on.

I don’t want to watch it all happen again.  Those images have been burned into my memory in living color and, sadly, will always remain there.  When I think of the families that watched as loved ones leaped from the towers, or were buried in the rubble and twisted metal, I wouldn’t want to be reminded.  But each year, the news media plays and replays the gruesome scenes over and over again and refreshes the horror and grief Americans experienced when they watched it the first time, encouraging them to recall where they were and what they were doing when it happened.  I know where I was and what I was doing.  But it seems that Americans have made a game out of telling their story in an attempt to out-best each other in the details.  I shared my story once, and once was enough.

Have we healed and moved on?

I don’t want to watch the building of a memorial to the tragedy, one that has taken eleven years of bickering and fighting over every detail of it by politicians, including the myriad number of non-profits whose altruism or realization of a good thing is what compels many of them.  They have each attempted to force their own opinions as to how it should be built; from what it should look like to who it should honor.  Eleven long years and a lot of pockets have been filled with incomplete results.  And all the while, we are being reminded.

Have we healed and moved on?

I cringe every time I see the steel girders that fell amongst the rubble in the shape of a cross and the fervor over the possible implications, what it may have represented, and the battle over whether or not to give it a permanent home in the museum because it may offend someone.  I shuddered when I saw the klieg lights being pointed into the night sky over the gaping hole in the ground before the new tower started to rise.  God was present during all that terror.  There is no questioning that truth.  But the irony is that man will look for a symbol or an idol to worship instead of looking to Him for solace and peace.  Remember: shortly after 9/11, the pews are once again half-empty.  Yet man will erect a monument and place a piece of broken, twisted metal for all eyes to worship, rather than return to that empty seat where he can truly learn about and find the God who allowed this to happen.

Have we healed and moved on?

I am embarrassed and ashamed that our President refuses to define the men who planned and committed the 9/11 attack upon our nation.   In each preceding war this nation has fought, we have always clearly known who our enemy was and where to find him, even if it meant hunting him down on his own soil.  Our foes felt the full wrath of our military might and the world knew that America was not to be messed with.  Not so in our current state of affairs.  We are told that tolerance and persuasion is the best method of dealing with our enemies…even at the cost of 3,000 lives.  We must first gain the approval of the United Nations before we can defend ourselves.  We can be angry, just not too angry. 

Have we healed and moved on?

The battle cry to bring to justice those who perpetrated this atrocity rang loud and clear across our nation.  A call to arms was given, the trumpet call to battle was heard, and revenge for the lost was sought.  But after eleven years, there has been no victory.  Politicians began repositioning themselves when it was discovered that Suddam Hussein had conveniently moved his weapons of mass destruction across the border.  Those who supported President Bush and voted to wage war quickly turned on him to protect themselves and their cushy jobs. Their hypocrisy was and is astounding.  Yet, our current President arrogantly claims victory in Iraq and promises to pull our troops from Afghanistan - all for political expediency and with the full support of the turncoats that first supported President Bush.  But I am forced to ask the bodies that continue to come home if they feel the same way.  Or the hundreds of thousands of Christians who have fled Iraq in the face of persecution and for fear of their lives.  I am reminded of Viet Nam and the withdrawal before victory was won from that seemingly endless war.  Millions of their citizens were slaughtered following our military’s departure, and the world quietly put it behind them.

Have we healed and moved on?

By now you have probably settled in your mind that I am that cold, callous, and uncompassionate person I denied being in the beginning of this post.  If you have decided that, there’s no need for me to continue defending myself.  But I would like to encourage everyone to consider the reliving and reviewing of images, voices, and stories that we must endure each September 11th.  Maybe I’m a little more determined than some.  Perhaps I have been given the ability to remember with a little more resolve and fortitude, like my uncles who served in prior battles.

I want to see America heal and move on.  I want parents to teach their children the value and importance of living in so great a nation; teaching them to be courageous and strong when adversity strikes and how to cope when tragedy comes.  We live in a nation of proud history.  Conflict never caused our forefathers to waver or tremble in fear and apprehension of what may come next.  They suffered the battles, chronicled their victories and defeats, buried their warriors with honor, and moved forward with great strength and dogged determination to make the United States of America the greatest nation on the face of this earth.  And in my eyes, she still is.

I will pause and remember the terror of 9/11.  But I won’t watch the hours and hours of images and recordings of the voices of the victims being endlessly replayed, or listen to the speeches given by politicians jostling for a photo opportunity.  I refuse to watch our hypocritical President tell his own story about where he was at the time of the attack and how it grieved him to see our nation suffer.  Nor will I get comfort from watching him place a wreathe at the memorial site.  I won’t retell my story to anyone or read the stories of others because I have healed and moved on.  And I want my beloved nation to also heal and move on.

I will remember 9/11 my way:  with quiet honor for the dead and prayer for God’s continued protection upon this great nation He established for us.  May He always bless America and those with courage, strength, and character who stand in defense of her.

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