Everyone has a story, everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11th, 2001. My story, like those of many Americans, isn't incredibly spectacular. I wasn't in New York City. I wasn't even on the East Coast. And I hesitate to add to the flurry of "what I remember" tales, because mine wasn't one of the "important" stories of that day. But this morning, as we were driving to church, we saw several people standing alongside the road, holding large American flags. My youngest daughter asked what they were doing, and we explained that they were there because today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
"What's 9/11?" she asked. And I struggled to sum up the importance of this day we remember so vividly in a few short sentences before her mind wandered to the next topic of interest. I'm not sure how well I explained it this morning, so I'm going to try it again now:
9/11 was the day, 10 years ago, when our country changed in the wake of a terrible terrorist attack. It's the day when some terrorists tried to destroy our country, our people and our entire way of life by filling our hearts with fear and paralyzing "what ifs?"
9/11 was also the day, 10 years ago, when we came together as a nation and fought back against the terrorists. It's the day when people looked terror right in the eye and refused to let it take hold. It's the day when we opened our doors and windows and got to know our neighbors. It's the day when we took a look around and counted our blessings, when we held our loved ones close and knelt together in prayer for people we didn't know and would never meet - and we meant every word. It's the day when we stopped thinking, for a moment, about all the things we didn't have and took the time to appreciate all the things we did. It's a day when ordinary men and women stepped up to become great heroes.
9/11 was the day when a group of misguided people thought they could destroy America with a well-coordinated attack. But they were wrong. As long as we remember who we are and why we are here... As long as we never forget that America isn't about buildings and places and politics... As long as we remember that we, the people, make this country strong... As long as we remember to reach out to our friends and neighbors and lean on each other for strength... We can pull through anything. That's what I learned 10 years ago.