Ezra started to tell me about something some bad people did “a long time ago…” It took me a bit to know what he was talking about… It didn’t seem that long ago, but I guess it’s been 14 years.
I remember being in the airport. Ben was leaving for his mission to Rome, and it was a joyous occasion. We’ve got some great pictures of the family waiting for Ben’s load time. We were ignorant of what was going on behind us.
In the background, the first tower was burning on the TV. We were oblivious to it, though there were a few in the airport paying close attention. There was a change in the air, it was palpable, and everyone started watching the TV. Some, like me, where almost unconcerned, others were in tears watching the tower burn. We thought for sure that there must have been a terrible accident. There was no sound on those TVs, so we were just reading the news as it was scrolling across CNN. Then the second plane hit the second tower, and there was an audible, unanimous gasp across the airport… and the TVs all went black. In the following few minutes, the airport was evacuated and shut down.
When we got into the parking lot, a random FedEx van was parked askew in the middle of the parking lot. I remember thinking “this is how we are going to die. It’s going to be Oklahoma City all over again.” Of course, nothing happened. The drive back to Idaho, we tried to make sense of what was happening by listening to the news. I remember asking Dad “why would somebody do that?” Even as a late teen, I was totally ignorant of the world. In retrospect, I don’t think I was alone.
On September 12, the country changed. We were unified in purpose. We loved each other, despite our differences. We turned to God. We were one people in a way that we had not been in 2 generations.
In the coming days, my friends and I worried about war, and worried about a new draft. We still didn’t know exactly who we would be fighting, but we new that our country couldn’t let the attacks stand. Some of my friends were the first to enlist. and many enlisted as soon as school finished. I was among those who tried, and failed.
In the following years, I was caught up in the jingoism that swept our country. I truly believed that if we were just patriotic enough, and if we were just nice enough to each other, things could really change.
I guess today I’m feeling a bit melancholy. I’m not sure that I believe those things anymore. Me heart doesn’t swell with pride with the playing of the National Anthem. I stopped flying my flag a few years ago (not really a conscious choice, we just moved, and it never got put back up). I stopped really enjoying the lyrics “we’ll put a boot up your ass, it’s the American way!” I’m not sure when the change happened, but it has happened none the less.
When it comes down to it, I have to ask myself, what is the solution to the problems in our country? Does patriotism solve our problems? has the generation of war that has changed my peers, and changed me, been worth the cost?
I don’t have the answers. I am convinced, however, that the freedom that swells my heart with pride is being stripped away: not by terrorists in planes, but from within. It’s not just evil men contriving to collect more power, but we, as a people are giving the freedoms and liberties away piece meal. The solutions can’t come from the centralized government, and they won’t come at the end of a gun. I think we need to stop believing that things will always work out because ‘Merica, and start realizing that America has been great because the people have been good. We cannot continue that greatness without individually accepting the responsibility of turning to God, and following his teachings.
Today, we remember. But it’s not enough to remember how we felt on 9/11, let’s remember how we felt on 9/12. Let’s turn to God, let’s find the areas that are broken in our lives, pursue repentance, seek restitution and find peace individually. The world is in more turmoil now then it was 14 years ago. The only peace we will find is individually. If we turn to God, we can finally begin to turn to each other with true love and understanding. Then we can feel what 9/12 felt like again.
I miss the bliss of my youthful ignorance, but it’s gone. The evils that attacked us are killing hundreds of thousands even now. The Christian population in Syria has dropped from 2 million to less than 500,000 in just a matter of years. The genocide of Christians and Yazidis in the Middle East is in full sway, but we’ve turned our eyes. We promised that we’d never forget, but I fear that our remembering is a greater stain on our souls because we ignore the needy. We need to turn our hearts back to God. We need to stop promising that we need to forbid the atrocities of the past as “never again,” and realize that Never Again is NOW.