Likely, this date will never be forgotten, much like the generation that experienced the “Day of Infamy” that took place December 7, 1941. Although those who were there, and those who were alive that day, are disappearing of old age and illness at a rate of thousands per day, America still remembers and pays tribute to the lives that were also lost that day. Americans do not forget tragic events. Those times are emblazoned into the conscious memory of the nation. When people remember, they become emboldened.
Americans also know that the events that took place twelve years ago this month remind everyone that the nation is vulnerable and needs constant vigilance. The country was rocked out of its comfortable bed that day in 2001 and shaken to its core. That day changed the way America lives, and the way the world has become.
Yes, air travel has become more inconvenient, but it has become safer. Yes, there are more cameras around, but that has reduced the amount of crime as a side effect. Yes, people are edgier and a little more jumpy now than they were before 9/11, but the price for heightened awareness by the military, police, and first responders is worth payment as the watch care is better than it ever has been. Let no one forget that their call is to serve and to protect against all enemies both foreign and domestic—they swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. They are willing to die for it, and so should every American.
According to USA Today, The 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will be marked by formal events such as public readings of victims' names, wreath-laying ceremonies and charity fundraisers. But across the country, there will also be countless modest actions to honor the heroes and memorialize the victims of that day, such as a family blowing out the candles on a special cake. People will donate blood, fly American flags, attend religious services and take baked goods to firehouses. They will spend extra time with family, give money to charity and volunteer at soup kitchens.
Some who take these small but significant actions have a direct link to the horrors of Sept. 11, such as losing a loved one. Others don't have a close connection but want to commemorate the day. Nearly half of Americans plan to observe this anniversary in an informal way, such as saying a prayer or taking a moment of silence, according to a new American Pulse survey. Thirteen percent will do it in a more formal manner such as attending a memorial service. Even with the passage of time, the desire to recognize each anniversary remains strong.
There also are service projects available for people to do. The Points of Light Foundation believes that bringing people together in service builds a permanent and positive legacy that rekindles the spirit of unity that existed immediately after September 11, 2001. It brings together cultures, bridges differences and unites citizens of goodwill around the world. Points of Light and the Hands On Network affiliates will mobilize thousands of people in disaster preparedness training and building the capacity of nonprofit organizations to equip and mobilize volunteers in times of disaster.
One unfortunate aspect of the distance in time between then and now is the spiritual decline of Americans. When an event that galvanized the human spirit of every person in the nation on September 11, 2011, and then pulled the country together in a spirit of humility and worship, has waned, that is a problem. Perhaps, what individuals should remember is the reason America was founded and exists. Perhaps Americans need to focus on the One who protects from the evil one. Today, as you remember and pray, keep a watchful eye on the future and remember the words of President Reagan:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
But today is also a day of hope, celebration, and patriotism. Officially, today is now Patriot Day. This is in honor of the resolve as Americans have shown in the face of adversity. Patriot Day is a day to remind your children and grandchildren what it takes to defend liberty and freedom. That democracy and a free people are ideas that must be defended throughout every generation.
While this tragedy left America and its people shaken, it also uncovered a steely national resolve and a commitment to justice that is uniquely American. Founded in democracy and a belief in divine providence and committed to personal liberty, the United States remains a beacon of freedom to the world. There are those who still grieve, and those who harbor hate in their hearts, but the spirit of forgiveness provides strength in times of need. The spirit of love provides the ability to forgive.
As you reflect on the events of that fateful day, lift America up in prayer, to intercede on behalf of the men and women in uniform who have fought and are fighting to preserve the freedom won in armed combat on remote battlefields. Remember, too, our first responders, our firefighters and peace officers who patrol our communities every day. Finally, please pray for national leaders, that they might be blessed with God's wisdom in the choices they make on the nation’s behalf at home and abroad. As well, say a prayer to help you depend on Him who shelters His children with His wings of protection and His Spirit of peace.
Until next time. We shall never forget.