Summary: I know just about every one of us can remember where we were on September 11, 2001. But how well do we remember how we felt that day? And does it really matter?
I had just gotten out of the shower the morning of September 11, 2001, and the radio was on in the bedroom. I vaguely heard something about an airplane hitting a tower in New York. I will admit that my initial reaction was excitement at first, because I thought maybe the plane had hit the United Nations building. No matter how bad I still despise the UN, I feel bad now that I thought that.
When I found out that actually one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit, I grew just a little bit numb. It was hard to imagine that it had been on purpose--until the second plane hit the second tower.
I went to work, and everyone who had a television had it turned on. I didn't get much work done that day. Once it was clear what had happened, the president of Brigham Young University called a special devotional assembly so that we could pay tribute to those of many nations whose lives had been taken by terrorists. I went home and talked to my family about it all for most of the evening.
In the few days that followed, I wanted to donate blood, but there were already too many donors. As what had happened unfolded, I somehow didn't mind if my National Guard unit were called up to go to Afghanistan. We flew our flag in front of our house for several days. I flew a window flag in my car everywhere I went. And I remember that a whole bunch more people came to church for the next few Sundays than usually did.
It's been almost 5 years now. You know, it's funny how I remember more about where I was and what I saw than how I felt.
I wonder if you are like me? Do you remember how you felt on that day? Or is it easier to remember where you were? Why? Is life too busy that we don't take time to remember? Maybe it's not important. But wait...
I'll bet you felt a little closer to God for a while. I'll bet you felt good going to church a little more often. I'll bet you felt that America was the greatest country in the world and that we had done nothing to deserve such desecration by fundamentalist Islamic lunatics. I'll bet you even wanted to find out more about Islam so you could figure out if they were all this crazy. I'll bet you wanted to go out and do something about it. And, I'll bet you said "I'll support President Bush in doing anything he can to track down the people who are behind this and make sure that it never happens again."
Come to think of it...I still feel that way. I found out that not really very many Muslims are crazy (but a few still are) and I'm glad for that. I'm still convinced that America is the greatest nation on the earth, and we didn't do anything to deserve what happened on 9/11. And I still support President Bush in doing whatever is necessary to ensure that it doesn't happen again. (My research indicates that based on such things as WMDs and the al Qaeda-Iraq connection ,"whatever is necessary" includes building a free Iraq.)
What makes America the greatest nation on earth is our ability and desire to continue to give, even in the face of the abusive lies we endure both from the world and even from some of our fellow Americans who ought to know better. What makes America great is that we have never kept the spoils of war; not only have we helped our friends rebuild from the destruction of war, we have helped our enemies to do so as well. And in every one of these cases, our enemies have become friends in the marketplace of nations.
In future years, when we look back on 9/11, we'll also be able to remember when we used to serve in Iraq, and how we helped our Iraqi brothers and sisters to achieve liberty. The Iraqis as well will have become our friends in the marketplace of nations. I'm convinced it will be a fond memory. And how we felt will have mattered a great deal and in a very good way.