Echoes of 9-11

“Notwithstanding the beauty of this country of Faerie . . . there is much that is wrong in it. If there are great splendours, there are corresponding horrors; heights and depths, beautiful women and awful fiends; noble men and weaklings. All a man has to do is to better what he can.” 
George MacDonald, from Phantastes.

Horrors and splendor. That’s what we find in life. The horrors include bad things we do to each other and bad things that happen by chance. Yet, life also consists of splendors, God’s expression of beauty, His beauty within our hearts that sometimes comes out through our hands.

Splendor is often our response to horror.

On Tuesday, we mark 17 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives in Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and New York City.

It happened in my third year of teaching when I was overseeing a class of seventh and eighth-graders. A plane hit the first tower in New York City. The moment marked us all.

Over the last several years, the number of students who can remember the day has trickled to a drip and nearly stopped. Few young people who recall that day sit before me.

September 11, 2001, brought Americans wall to wall coverage of debris and devastation. There was the relief of joy and the devastation of loss. This person was saved. That one was gone.

Today, it is the fading event that echoes in our days, no longer shaping our times. Yet, we are different–sometimes missing the beauty of that day. Often missing the beauty of each other.

Forgetting the horror of the day means forgetting that there was beauty even in the loss. The heroes of Flight 93 challenged horror when it looked them in the eye. They said no. We felt horror at their deaths but beauty in their heroism.

President George W. Bush reminded us that “One of the lessons of 9-11 is that evil is real and so is courage.”

Horror happens at the hands of people who choose to bring it. And, as I’ve mentioned, it comes by chance as well–a different form of fiend. We can’t know why this person didn’t come home at the end of an otherwise ordinary day and that one did.

But we can marvel at those who fight the fiends of evil and chance still today.

This week, we remember the horror and celebrate the beautiful heroes. We celebrate the heroes of today–soldiers, police officers, firefighters, and caregivers. We mark the beauty of those who strive to better what they can. 

May all of us find a way to count ourselves, somehow, among the beautiful. We can work to see the beautiful. And make better what we can.

To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3~


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18 Replies to “Echoes of 9-11”

  1. Amen. Remembering that horrible event and how the world reacted. I was attending a Bible Study leaders class when a woman walked in to the meeting and whispered in the ear of the leader. Immediately our leader asked us to get on our knees and begin praying. She explained what was happening. We all fell to our knees and prayed. After prayer, we all went to find our loved ones. God bless America.

    1. Melissa, I think that’s one day everyone remembers who was old enough to be aware of it. So glad to see God’s provision of prayer warriors at the very moment it was unfolding. Thanks and God bless!

  2. Thank you for this remembrance. So hard to believe it has been 17 years already. Prayers for all those affected on the grim anniversary.

  3. Hi Nancy, 9-11 is an event that shook the entire world. Even here in Singapore it shaped the terrorism-related policies and attitudes of the country. Thanks for keeping the courage shown by the heroes that day alive with this post! I join you in celebrating them and praying a blessing over them!

  4. I remember that day when I incredulously heard and read about the horror…and watched the videos…

    I didn’t believe it at first, because I didn’t want to. I couldn’t imagine the devastation…even deep within the hearts of loved ones. The heart sinking of those who would not escape.

    In awe, I learned of the heroes – responders, strangers, familiar shoulders…

    Why? How? Now what?
    We will never forget.
    Thank you for your words and the reminder that we can find God in our sorrow.

  5. Dear Nancy!

    Like you, I find it essential to remember that day. It was a day that changed the world; for many families, life will never be the same again after that day.

    Agree, we can (and should) work to see the beautiful.

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

  6. We were talking about this yesterday, 9-11 seems like a lifetime ago, and it was… the life of my 16-year-old son. For so many who are alive today it’s not a memory, but a history lesson they learn about in school. Yet to so many of us the events of that day are etched into our memory for eternity. I remember where I was when I heard the news, and how I went about the rest of the day feeling surreal. I had to go to a job interview and it felt so wrong to be doing something so normal when it felt like the world was falling apart. Yet, my kids will (hopefully) never understand that.

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