On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in my 5th grade classroom as the teachers were frantically deciding how to tell us what happened, and parents were coming to pick their children up from school. Really, I was just hoping my mom would come pick up my brother and me from school... maybe that's bad, I don't know....I was 10 and didn't even know what the World Trade Towers were.
What I remember after that is a craziness of patriotic feelings that engraved themselves within the hearts of working men and women, parents, senators, and children who didn't really know what they were being taught. I didn't really understand the gravity of what happened, but what I did understand was the feeling of unity and of being a part of something bigger than myself. That is the first time I recall feeling that way about something besides my family.
So patriotic feelings were really important to me. And so were all the songs. "God Bless America", "America the Beautiful", "God Bless the USA". Music is one of the ways in which I feel closest to God. This was no exception.
But as I have grown older, and especially in the past couple of years, I have been struck by a few things.
Remembering 9-11 is great! Remembering the lives that died in the saving of others or just that fell under the rubble, is important. But I think that we do ourselves and our religion a disfavor when we say things like "God bless America" and then go off into a war and kill thousands of innocent men, women, and children because we had a couple of towers come down and our sense of security was taken for a week or so. What about the sense of security of those people who live in war zones and haven't felt secure for years? What about the sense of fright that people in other countries have?
We are in a war, yet we are hardly dealing with the repercussions of it. It is not on our soil and we are not having to face the reality of death right before our eyes on a daily basis. In fact, I forget that we are in war most days. People are dying everyday in other countries, and sadly, I don't think we really care because they are around the world and different from us. But are they really that different? Sure they may speak a different language, learn differently, or have a different religion, but they still breath, they still love, and they still exist.
I have heard 9-11 referenced to as "the most Beverly Hills version of a war zone". While it is horrible, it places some sense of reality on the situation. Here in America we focus so much on making 9-11 a memorial for the thousands of people that passed away, and while I'm not saying that those lives aren't important and don't deserve to be honored, because they do, we need to remember those in other countries who are passing away daily. Just because something happened on American soil doesn't make it anymore tragic than a car bombing or the massacre of innocent people elsewhere. I don't think God looks at things that happen to America as any more tragic.
Jesus says to love our neighbors as ourselves. Somehow I don't think he just means those in our own countries. I think he means those with whom we differ. Those with whom we clash. Jesus calls us to love. I have trouble gathering in my head that loving others is exclusive to where they live or what religion they adhere to. And I have trouble accepting that Jesus only blesses the US. I'm fairly sure that if he calls us to make disciples of all nations, he must love all nations.
But I digress.
So here's to 9-11. Here's to the thousands of men and women who died from the events, or sacrificed their lives. Here's to the thousands of families and loved ones these events have effected this side of the ocean, and the other. Here's to the innocent men, women, and children who have had their lives taken away.
God bless us all. Lest we not forget.