is a banner attached to the side of the deep cavern that
is Ground Zero. It reads, "We will never forget." I
overheard a newscaster speaking what might be done with
those acres of land where the World Trade Center once
stood. Some hope that a memorial park will be developed
"so that we will never forget."
I cannot imagine ever forgetting
that fateful day. The images haunt us, relived again and
again on television and radio, endless books, magazines,
and e-mail photos. The news broadcasts of the Middle
East make us hold our breath and pray that there will be
no more tragedy, terror and anguish.
No. We will never forget because
we are all eyewitnesses. We will never forget because we
daily experience the effects upon our lives, our
families, our nation, and our world. We are the ones who
lost loved ones. It is said our world has changed
forever. For those of us alive today, we could see it
that way. No longer are we nave,
no longer are we blinded to the pain of worldwide anger
and suffering. We now feel the effects that a bombing
leaves behind. We now know something of what the world
on the other side of the ocean has experienced and some
continue to live with daily - fear of death and
destruction. No longer do we feel secure.
No, we will not forget, but the
day will come when 911 will join the long list of
horrific events in the history books. Oh, yes, students
will memorize the circumstances. Soldiers will increase
their readiness for a different kind of war. But the raw
pain of the open wound will eventually subside. We will
develop scar tissue that will cover the intensity of
fear, the desire to regain security through revenge,
retaliation, and retribution. The cry for justice will
not echo quite as loudly. The determined volunteers will
eventually stay home. And our children's children will
not understand why grandpa gets so angry on September
I was born in 1949 and I
"remember" nothing of WWII except the air raid drills
and the occasional defense plane flying over. I know of
the millions of Jews who lost their lives in Nazi
concentration camps. But I do not remember the dreadful
pain of being rounded up, herded like cattle into
railroad cars, stripped and thrown behind barbed wire
fences. Never seeing loved ones again.
I do not remember the anguish of
radiation burns nor the 140,000 people who died from
that first hydrogen bomb, nor the 60,000 buildings
destroyed in a three mile radius in Hiroshima, Japan.
I do not remember trudging the
long miles after we were torn from our lands and marched
to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.
I no longer remember what it was
like to lie in the ocean trying to cool the fever of
measles that the missionaries brought to our island.
Once we numbered a million. In less than a century we
were but 138,000.
I can no longer hear the screams
of my friends, my children as the traders of humans
disembarked from their ships with their rifles and guns.
We ran, we hid, but we were eventually dropped into the
cargo hold of that ship. The hatch closed and we stood
in darkness. 3,953,696 men, women, and children slaves
in America in 1860.
Around 722 BC Samaria fell. The
Israelites were deported into Persia and colonists from
Babylonia, Elam and Syria were moved in to take their
701 BC. Sennacherib entered
Judah, ravaged the country, 46 major cities were turned
over to Assyrian friendly nations and their people
In 587BC Jerusalem fell and all
the families of scholarly, economic or political
importance were marched to Babylon to remain in exile
for their entire lives.
I cannot hear their shouts, I
cannot feel their agony. I have no memory of these
events. I only know that they happened. Statistics tell
me how many and when - but I am not touched, I do not
cry until I see the faces of the sweaty, dirty,
exhausted rescue workers carrying out the injured and
dying. I do not cry until I see the anxious faces
waiting and waiting for news. Then history resonates
with something tragic in my life. Then I re - member!
Then the tears stream down my face. Then I feel the
hollow space in the depths of my being. Then I remember
the tragedy that is humanity's great inheritance. Sin.
Oh, how far I have wandered away from my God.
And yet, God has not allowed
that. God keeps pace with me, stands with me, supports
me. It was as if in that instant as we all stood aghast,
that the Holy Spirit soared aloft shouting "Wake up,
Wake up! See what your ways have allowed. This is not
what I created you for! Take up your cross and follow
me!" And they did. Thousands of people streamed onto
that site searching for, caring for, and praying for.
Thousands and thousands more poured in supplies and
financial support. As we saw the faces of the men and
women carrying victims and fellow co-workers out of that
burning disaster, I saw the anguished face of Christ
upon the cross. I saw the disciples carrying the body of
Jesus away from the cross and into the waiting arms of
his mother sobbing in sorrow. Some may call it the
spirit of patriotism - of America. But I would challenge
you to call it what it truly is. Jesus - alive!
So tell me again how our world
has changed. Is it the world? No. Our world continues to
throb with the pulse and rhythm of violence and peace.
Violence and peace. We still answer aggression with more
hatred and anger. We still commit crimes against our
fellow citizens. Men, women, and little children are
sadistically abused and murdered every day. People still
die of starvation, of incurable diseases. Not everyone
has an opportunity to earn a living wage. No, our world
has not changed. - - - - - - I have changed. You have
changed. But the question is . . . how?