There is a comfort and solace that comes as we absorb descriptions of the normalcy of how the day began. When people talk about it, it was the most beautiful day of the year. It was clear with stunning cloudless skies, warm but not hot, a breeze — many remember a breeze. It was beautiful.
As the 9/11 Commission Report begins, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States. Millions of men and women readied themselves for work. Some made their way to the Twin Towers, the signature structures of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Others went to Arlington, Virginia, to the Pentagon.
Across the Potomac River, the United States Congress was back in session. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, people began to line up for a White House tour. In Sarasota, Florida, President George W. Bush went for an early morning run.
When it began, everyone was doing something innocent. It was morning in New York in the fall and workers were getting coffee and parents were taking their children to school. Those of us who were not in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or nearby, those of us who were not among the terrified victims on the planes, those were not heroic firemen and tough cops are only able to allow ourselves to imagine their experiences.
It’s how we remember, the first news report, the phone call in which someone said, “Turn on the TV.” But then We remember the kind of small thing that when you first saw it you had no idea it would stay in your mind forever. As the day progressed we all remember how in our hearts minds it began to dawn on each of us... Things are different now.
President George W Bush’s speech from the oval office on the evening of September the 11th brought us all hope and courage as he summed up the events of the day, while at the same time stirring our resolve and love for America. Included in his address are these words, “Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.
“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”
So, how do you navigate the ground zeroes of life? The story of the life of Joshua gives us a host of great insight as he leads a nation into uncharted places. First I think we have to trust God’s promises. God said to Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
Secondly, we must do what God says. “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”
Thirdly, Joshua reminds us to trust in His word, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Lastly, never forget God is with you! If we forget all else, we must never forget this. God reminded this leader, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As Peggy Noonan wrote of this day, crisis is a great editor. People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more heroic than they’d guess. Men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with life. Passengers who defied their murderers, and prevented the murder of others on the ground.
Men and women who wore the uniform of the United States, and died at their posts. Rescuers, the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help others. In these acts, and in many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to one another, and an abiding love for our country.
Though 18 years have come and gone, may we pledge ourselves and all that we have within us to the same cause for an even greater nation under God with liberty and justice for all. May those who come behind us, find us faithful! We will always remember, we will never forget.
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council. He writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald.