For almost any American over the age of 15, that date September 11 will never be the same. It will never be just another day on the September calendar. It will (and should) always remind us of that dreadful day in 2001, when our world changed.
At that point in time I was the mother of two. My oldest son was not quite 3 and my oldest daughter was 10 ½ months old. I didn’t have to worry about getting kids off to school and making sure homework was done. Those were the days of diapers and baby bottles. My husband was the only leaving the house every morning, and he was/is rather self-sufficient. They were, for the most part, innocent times.
That morning I sat in the baby’s room/guest room watching the morning news on TV as I gave my daughter a bottle. Although an extra TV was in that room, my children didn’t watch much. Back then I was careful about monitoring the content and how much TV they watched. It was pretty much only on in the morning while I fed the baby and waited for the weather forecast.
I left the TV on as I walked out of the room to say good-bye to my husband at the front door. I’m not sure what I did then — probably went to the kitchen to get some breakfast, the bathroom, or maybe changed a diaper — but it was several minutes before I returned to the TV. When I saw the look on Matt Lauer’s and Katie Couric’s faces, I knew something was dreadfully wrong.
I then noticed the live image of a smoldering skyscraper behind them. I listened long enough to get the gist of what happened. I then put the baby in the crib and got my son into that room and turned the channel to PBS Kids for them. This was the first time I ever used the TV as a babysitter. I needed them to be occupied while I went into my bedroom next door, shut the door, and turned on the TV. I needed to get informed about this and I knew I wasn’t ready for the little ears in the house to hear.
As I watched and listened with horror and fear, my first reaction was to pray. Not only did I pray for the victims of this terrible mess, but I prayed for those who caused it. I prayed for whoever would rationalize that this was a valid means of communicating their message, or making a point, or…whatever. I prayed for those who would support this kind of violence, knowing that somewhere in the world there were people celebrating this massacre. I prayed for their hearts to be converted and for them to know the same loving, caring God that I know.
As the day unfolded – more plane crashes, more suffering, more deaths – I wondered what kind of world my kids would be growing up in. Was this the new norm? Was this the start of a new war, one that would be played out on American soil? Were we in physical danger? What is happening to our world? Was all hope lost?
No, all hope is not lost. Where there is faith, there is hope. I truly believe, that although our nation gives the outward appearance of little faith or belief in God (thanks a lot, Hollywood), the bulk of us have faith. I saw that hope and faith in the weeks following 9/11 as a new patriotism swept across the country. I heard it in the voice of my two-year old as he sang “America the Beautiful” while walking down the hall. People supported one another. We prayed more. It was OK to show your faith and to talk about God openly. Despite all of the tragedy and loss, hope survived. We survived.
I fear things have changed now. That sense of patriotism and unity has faded. Our country is divided in so many ways. It saddens me and scares me. We are divided on politics, race, theology, life issues, and much, much more. Where is that spirit of unity we found after 9/11? Now, more than ever, it is important to keep that faith and hope alive. With the President seemingly tossing a coin to decide if we will enter into another war, we need to continue praying as a country. We need to continue to support one another. No one expected 9/11 to happen. But as a country we came together in hope, faith, and love. If or when something else tragic comes our way, are we in a position to cope in the same manner? I certainly hope so.