20 years ago I didn’t have Facebook to help me drown in my sorrows or inflame the anger that flared beneath my shocked surface shell. I spent the evening in literal shock at what had just occurred in my beloved country. Nestled away in the safety of Montana I felt raw but naively relieved. What happened there couldn’t happen here. But what happened there would not be forgotten here. Within days the citizens of Billings were standing united in lines to get our United We Stand T-shirts. The store I worked in became a distributor and we could not keep them in stock (the shirts were also printed in town by Sutton’s). Flags flew everywhere. The skies were eerily quiet for days, despite living under a flight path. Our churches were full again.
Our lives had been forever changed – the extent of which none of us could fathom at the time. We lost so much.
In the 20 years since 9/11 so much has changed – in the world, in our country, in my life. Our lives have gone on – we have gotten on with life. While not the same, I can relate to the losses of those who loved people who died that day. I can relate to the broken dreams that would never be realized. This sad marking of time has been jarring to me this year for reasons I am not sure of. Perhaps it is because the life I swore I would never take for granted feels so unworthy of the sacrifices others made and continue to make around me. How might I change that? What difference could my life make?
Last night as I watched National Geographic’s 9/11, I was reminded just how much we lost as a nation that wretched Tuesday. I was also reminded of the amazing courage and love and steadfast unity that embraced our country. However briefly…
We must have darkness before we can see the true brilliance of light and in the days that followed that dark, dark Tuesday, the light did shine.
That light barely flickers now. Yes, we see it from time to time in the eyes of those who will never forget that day and have sacrificed their lives so that we may continue to seek the light of freedom and live in unity and peace.
Sadly, what they fight for seems to be understood in a very different way by those who benefit from their sacrifice. Who are we anymore, as a nation? We have become so focused on the individual, on the pursuit of singular ideals, and protecting what the individual has. We are no longer united by anything, rather we exist in fractured societies that appeal to our personal desires.
What amount of darkness will it take for our nation to once again seek and see the light?
We have become numb to the horrors of that day 20 years ago. We look at one another with suspicion, distrust, judgment, and self-supremacy. We fail to see value in disagreement and compromise and instead feed and thrive on division. What will it take for our nation’s heart to feel again? Obviously, the loss of well over 650,000 lives in less than 2 years won’t do the trick…
I pray that God once again quiets the minds of those who survived the attacks on 9/11 and those who mourn the dead on that day. I pray that they at least know that their loss has not been forgotten. I pray that our nation will survive the darkness we have created from within and be strong enough to defend against the darkness that seeks to forever destroy the beacon of light our founders confidently believed was possible.