It is almost exactly 13 years since Mohammed Atta flew American Airlines flight 11 into the 93rd through 99th floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Every generation has its own defining moments, and I know with certainty that this was mine.
I had just started my day at Verizon in Normal, IL. I did inside sales with a talented group of colleagues, and we were all logging onto our computer systems.
And then…one by one, we started noticing the radio that was piped in throughout the office.
A plane has hit the North Tower.
I saw heads pop-up around each of our cubicles, but we all thought it was just some Cessna that flew off course because of a disoriented pilot. Sad, but not a tragedy of terrorism fueled by hate-filled ideology.
After making our first phone calls of the day, about 17 minutes later, we heard that United Airlines Flight 175 had just flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
This was no accident. This was on-purpose. America was under attack.
And 34 minutes later, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. And 30 minutes after that, Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
The day became still. Work stopped. Hearts were blended together. Tears were mingled. Grief was shared. There were no democrats or republicans.
13 years later.
We aren’t united. We’ve forgotten about what matters. We chase after nothing and call it something. We have lost our togetherness.
But we need it more than ever.
Last night, as President Obama addressed the nation about the threat of the Islamic State. the Islamic State is more organized and has more money than al-Qaeda ever has. And they are filled with a hatred that made al-Qaeda shudder and disavow them. Their goal isn’t terror. Their goal is world domination through the form of an Islamic Caliphate.
We must unite. We must remember. God, make us remember. And act.
13 years after the worst terror attack our nation has ever seen, we are facing the likelihood of facing even greater attacks on our soil. So what can we do?
But not the kind of remembering we do to simply recall information. Remembering in a way that transforms our actions.
On the last night of Jesus’ life, he had dinner with his close followers. He took a loaf of bread and said that it represented his body, that was going to be broken for them. Then he took the cup filled with wine, and he said that it was like his blood which would be shed for them for the forgiveness of their sins. Then he said: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
This was no casual thought or religious ritual. This was life-informing and life-altering.
His followers knew that he was demonstrating what kind of lives they were to lead from that point on:
broken and poured out for the sake of others.
And we are, too. 3000 Americans died on 9.11.01. And because of that, we have a responsibility and even a calling to live differently. To live AWAKENED. To live PASSIONATELY. To see everything as SACRED.
And to respond to terror threats wherever the exist.
Anything less is simply not acceptable. Remember.