How long is 17 years? It is 204 months. It is 886.5 weeks. It is 6,205 days. It is 148,920 hours. For a child just starting school, 17 years seems so long - forever! For a high schooler enjoying their new independence of driving alone, 17 years is a lifetime. For a recent college grad, 17 years signifies change, from the past and for the future. For middle-aged person, 17 years reminds them of simpler times, and a wonder at what is to come. For the elderly, 17 years seems so short a time, a blink of an eye.
To an American, 17 years mean Never Forget. For 17 years ago, the nation lived up to its name - The United States of America. Seventeen years ago, we promised that we would Never Forget. We promised that we would stand together. We promised that it was a turning point for this nation. We promised we would not break those promises.
On Tuesday, 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 the United States 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, where the fight back was already beginning. The United States of America rose up, united, and fought back; remembering those who died in that attack.
Seventeen years later, on Tuesday, September 11, 2018, we remember that attack. We celebrate, we mourn, we grieve, and we remember. But what do we remember?
Seventeen years later, we are no longer united. It has been nearly two years since the most divisive and ugliest election in recent history. Since the election, marches, protests, and rallies have occurred throughout America, some 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 differences, and work together for the best outcome for all. I’m right, and your wrong and need to be silenced has become the status quo.
Seventeen years later, we are no longer united. But hope is not lost! We, as a nation, still come together every now and then and show that we can be united. A young girl goes missing and the community bands together, determined to find her and support her family. A town lacks drinking water and donations pour in from around the country. A hurricane demolishes a city, burying it underwater. Volunteers flock to the city, donating time, energy, and resources helping those who need it, however they can. This support shines through without thought, everyone doing what they can, just as we did 17 years ago! This nation can and does still unite! But it shouldn’t take a national emergency for us to unite!
When remembering September 11, 2001, we are often somber, remembering those who were lost that day, and those who lost their lives since, because of what happened that day. But in that devastation, we also saw the best of people! We do not know what the future may hold. We do not know what will happen 17 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! Be the best version of you that you can be! “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 is time to come together! Seventeen years is a lifetime away. Seventeen years is just around the corner. What will your legacy be in 17 years?