Sixteen years ago, this country united. It lived up to its name - the United States of America. Sixteen years. For a kid just starting school, its seems forever, For a high schooler learning to drive, it is a lifetime. For a recent college grad, it means change, from the past and for the future. For a middle-aged person, it is memories of a simpler time and a wonder of what is to come. For the elderly, it seems so short. Sixteen years can mean different things to different people at different stages of life. But for everyone, on this day, sixteen years ago is a day this country united.
On September 11, 2001, the United States of America was attacked by a foreign land. Their goal was to destroy this great nation, to strike fear into the heart of every American. It was the first major attack on United States soil since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 60 years earlier. The loss of life in both events was comparable - 2,300 in Hawaii and 2,966 in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, already beginning the fight back. They did not succeed. The United States of America rose up, united, and fought back; remembering those who died in that attack.
Sixteen years later, we are no longer united. It has been less than a year since the most divisive and ugliest election in recent history. Since the election, marches, protests, and rallies have occurred throughout America, often ending in violent conflict between opposing groups. Friends and families have divided and are no longer on speaking terms due to differing political and religious beliefs. We are no longer willing to listen to opposing views, to talk, discuss difference, and work together for the best outcome for all. I’m right and your wrong and need to be silenced has become the norm.
But hope is not lost. Earlier this year, Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas. Two weeks later, as flooding was still rampant is Houston, Hurricane Irma is poised to demolish Florida. And what was this nation’s response? For the most part, unity. The United States came together, united, to help those who had suffered and lost. Volunteers from all over the nation went to Texas and are planning for Florida, donating their time, energy, and resources, much as we did sixteen years ago, to help those who needed it. It happened without thought. It proved that when the worst came, this nation could still unite!
When remembering September 11, 2001, we are often somber, remembering those who were lost that day and those who lost their lives because of what happened that day. But in that devastation, we also saw the best of people, just as we have earlier this year. We do not know what the future may hold. We do not know what will happen 16 years from now. If we want a better United States of America, one that honors its name, then we have to start changing now!
Change has to begin somewhere, sometime, with someone! Why not you? And now! Wherever you are! “Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32b-33, ESV)
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:14-15, ESV) Begin where all Christians should begin addressing their problems - the Lord. Pray, as Jesus did at Gethsemane. Seek His guidance for your next move.
So put down the tiki torches and baseball bats. Take off the hoods and the masks. Put down your shields and weapons. It’s time to come together. Sixteen years is a lifetime away. Sixteen years is just around the corner. What will your legacy be in 16 years?