In the midst of one of the most volatile and divisive presidential election seasons that many of us have seen, I pray that this day will help us remember what really matters. On this day 11 years ago, as I stood in a McDonald’s restaurant on my way to class, I looked up at the television just in time to see the second of two planes crash into the World Trade towers in New York City. I remember how everyone was transfixed on what was happening in our nation. I remember, after knowing that all air traffic had been stopped, that the plane I saw flying over my head was Air Force One as it was coming to or leaving from Offut Air Force Base in suburban Omaha, NE — carrying the President.
On 911 Nobody Cared About Republicans Or Democrats, Just Americans
I also remember that nobody cared about who was in the White House that day. Nobody cared about Republicans and Democrats and Independents. Nobody cared about who was right or who was wrong politically. For that moment, and a few days and weeks thereafter, all of us were just people. We were hurting people. We were people worried about the potential loss of family, friends and friends of friends. We were concerned about the aftermath…who was responsible? Where are they now? Will they strike again. Every major city in the nation was paranoid.
On 911 we were a prayerful people.
But we were also a prayerful people. Within a day or two, I remember driving around Omaha and seeing almost every business with letters arranged on their marquee that said: “God bless America.” I remember my pastor — and pastors all across the city and the nation — called for a special prayer meeting that night. And for that day and the immediate moments that followed, America fell away from divisiveness and found unity under God for the sake of healing.
In the weeks that followed, story after story emerged of how people banned together to help save lives, and to help comfort the hearts of those who mourned lives that could not be saved. People shared how by strokes of coincidence they missed one of the high jacked flights, or just happened to get held up at the bagel shop or Starbucks while getting their breakfast.
I remember one story about a man who was annoyed because his extra efforts trying to calm his fussy baby before leaving home were making him late for work.
Now we know the irritable child saved his daddy’s life.
Have we forgotten what brought us together as a nation?
Isn’t it funny how 11 years later we’ve forgotten that the same God who brings us together in times of tragedy can also hold us together when things are okay? Isn’t it sad that our nation has never been more divided even though we have so many reasons why we should never be more grateful?
It’s even more disgraceful that it often takes destruction of this magnitude to help us remember that regardless of race, ethnicity, denomination, faith or political affiliation, we as people and as Americans have more in common than we have in opposition.
Here’s hoping and praying that we can bring ourselves back to the place of humility and mutual love for our brothers and sisters around us before another catastrophe decides to do it for us.
May America bless God.