Always remember, never forget
Two years ago, we vowed we’d never forget. Yesterday, hundreds embraced and remembered.
Area residents gathered in churches, pavilions, parks and fire stations to honor those who died and those who lived through the world’s worst act of terrorism.
In the Vail Interfaith Chapel Thursday, there were no phones, no pagers, no palm pilots, no rush and no hurry.
“Be still and know that I am God,” the crowd was told. And they did. For a while.
They prayed, which is what many people did two years ago when first faced with the tragedy, and what some still do now as they remember. Between Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, and Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001, clergy and counselors at the Vail Interfaith Chapel ministered to 2,300 souls.
Across the country at Ground Zero Thursday morning, 200 school children read the names of the 3,000 dead.
Remember the miracles
In the immediate aftermath, after the noise, the shock and the primal scream of pain, the world was still – just for a moment.
“More than anything else in the Bible, we are charged to remember,” said Rev. Eugene Scott during Thursday’s memorial service in Vail. “We must remember how we felt and thought, not from something so evil, but from the goodness that followed.”
But also remember, said Scott, that the good stemmed from evil.
“Before 9/11 there were people who would argue that there was no evil, only choices,” Scott said. “9/11 taught us that there is evil. What happened on 9/11 was evil to its core.”
The idea that God was punishing humanity on that day is ludicrous, Scott said.
“God does not throw airplanes into the sides of buildings to punish us,” said Scott. “God does not laugh at or ignore our pain. He mourns.”
In the aftermath, Scott said, God was not silent.
“Evil and hate can take life,” said Scott. “Only God and love can create it. God is above all, and only God can turn evil into good through us.”
God is no less present now than he was during the times of our forefathers, said Ethan Moore of Trinity Church.
“Two years ago everything changed,” said Moore. “We are told to remember God’s actions in our forefathers, but also our actions among us now. May we sing in the shadow of God’s wings.”
Remember the moments
Life is a series of moments. Those moments are visions, snapshots of our personal and collective histories.
Rev. Brooks Keith’s parents were dancing at their wedding reception when a caterer rushed in and announced that President Kennedy had been shot.
In 1967, a different Kennedy lay in a pool of blood with a different crowd of people around him. The result was the same.
In 1973, people clung to the outside of last helicopter leaving Saigon like their lives depended on it. They did.
In 1973, Richard Nixon waved goodbye to the nation following his resignation, boarded his helicopter and flew into infamy.
The hostages in Iran, the assassination attempts of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, Marines being bombed to death in Lebanon, space shuttles exploding on take-off and re-entry – are all milestones by which we measure the passage of time.
“It seems like we’ve been through times like this,” said Keith. “We remember who we are by the events that characterize us.”
Remember the heroes
Sports heroes, political heroes come cheaply, manufactured by the marketing departments that profit by them. We knew before Sept. 11, and know with more certainty now, that heroes are not marketed, they’re made. We aren’t as quick as we once were to declare someone a hero simply because he can slam dunk or throw a baseball through a bank vault door.
We tend now to think of heroes as those who are willing to fight to get through crowds of panic-stricken people literally running for their lives; regular workingmen and women who struggle to run up a burning skyscraper when the rest of the world is running down, trying desperately to get out before it falls on them.
Those are heroes made, not marketed.
“This is how we fight both hatred and evil,” said Keith. “Do not forget, but remember. We honor the God who calls us here together. True evil rips us asunder.”