Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Like the Day Kennedy Was Shot

(I meant to post this yeaterday, but unfortunately my schedule did not permit any time.)

When I was a kid my parents talked from time to time about their life growing up. They would tell us stories about the goats and chickens. My dad used to tell us stories of mischief he and his cousins used to get into. I always enjoyed hearing their tales even if sometimes they seemed a bit far-fetched.

One of the things I'll never forget is hearing about the day Kennedy was shot. Both of my parents remembered vividly where they were and what they were doing at the time. As I grew up myself, I remember noticing that the day Kennedy was shot was actually "The Day Kennedy Was Shot". It was in it's own right not just a description but a title; a day that would live on forever in the memories of those who lived it and for generations to come memoialized on film and in our history books. I would venture a guess that any American older than 47 years old could tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on November 21, 1963 - The Day Kennedy Was Shot.

I wasn't alive in 1963. I wasn't around when they landed on the moon. All that I know of Watergate is what I had learned from history books and specials on the History Channel. In spite of the fact that I was alive when President Reagan was shot, I couldn't tell you where I was or what I was doing. I wasn't quite 3 years old yet. I can tell you where I was and what I was doing on January 28, 1986, the day the Challenger exploded. My dad had been gone on a business trip. My mom had brought our little tv into the kitchen to watch the coverage. My dad got home right around supper time and brought with him a brand new microwave-our family's first. Together we all stood in the kitchen watching the news. I'll never forget that night.

We all have memories of significant days in our lives. Some are private memories of family gatherings or personal accomplishments. Others are public memories like The Day Kennedy Was Shot. But for many of us the memory of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001, is still quite present and raw. The events of that day played over and over again from every angle and with every last detail repeated to death.

I had been married for two and a half months. We had just gotten back from a missions trip to the Czech Republic. I had quit my job the week before and was enjoying some time off. My husband had woken me up when he left to go to work. I rolled over to check the weather channel. As I flipped through the channels I noticed that every channel had a special report on and some buildings were burning. I stopped on ABC to see what was going on. I was horrified. Immediately I bolted out of bed to call Scott. He was still on his way to work, hearing about it on the radio. I called my mom at her work and my dad who was on the road. There was a panic in me to make sure that my family was ok even though we all lived in Wisconsin and were thousands of miles from what was happening. As I watched the the first tower fall, I too, crumbled to the floor and cried. I cried all day as I watched everything unfold.

Our church was hosting evangelists Michael and Linda Livengood. They had been doing services throughout the area and were scheduled to be up in Antigo on that Tuesday evening. We had planned to go, but instead we held our own memorial-type service at Christian Assembly. There was a stillness about the evening that was eery. No one was quite sure what all this meant and where it would lead. We knew that in a split second, our lives as we knew them were over. America would never be the same. Americans would never be the same.

September 12 dawned with such an urgency to seek answers. We were called upon as a nation to pray like we had never prayed before. People all over the nation were turning to their local churches for support and comfort. They sought a God whom had all but been forgotten. I remember thinking how unfortunate it was for our nation to turn to God en masse only after the very core of our way of life had been shattered. Why did it take an attack on American soil to get the nation's attention?

A couple weeks ago, Scott showed me a video he had come across on the internet. He had been talking about it for some time and told me that once I saw it I would think differently about what had happened five years ago. It was a documentary done by some guy and in it he suggested that the attacks were not done by some crazed Islamic warriors but done instead by greedy Americans who served to make a fortune off the insurance on the Towers. It suggested that the government participated to some degree (not the Prez). The evidence he presented was rather convincing. (But let me be clear: I have no desire to try to convince you one way or the other. In fact I have no definite opinion myself about what happened. I don't think it really matters what I think.) Whether the people who masterminded the attacks were Al Qaeda or American will never change the truth of who was actually behind the terror. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." The devil is not some cute little red guy with a pitchfork like the halloween costume we put on our children. He is real and evil and filled with nothing but hatred of you. He cannot tell the truth. The Bible say that he is the Father of lies. His only passion is to see you as miserable as he possibly can. He doesn't care if he destroys Americans, Arabs, or Jews. As long as he can destroy you, your way of life, the very foundations of your beliefs.

Whatever you belief is regarding what happened that beautiful Tuesday morning, your way of life has never been the same, and that should serve as a reminder of the real war that is taking place everyday. No one is immune from this war. There are no nuetral parties. No one stays uninvolved. Like Jesus said, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy," but he continued by saying, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) He wants the very best for us. He cannot tell a lie, it is not in his nature to lie. His desire is for us all to be reconciled to Him; to yield to His Will for our lives. "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for ALL HAVE SINNED and fall short of the glory of God, AND ARE JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:22-24) "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:10-12)

We will never be able to say for certain what tomorrow will bring. But we do know that death is not the end of life. It is only the beginning. "If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." (Romans 6:5) And like The Day Kennedy Was Shot, the numbers 9 and 11 will forever have a new meaning in this world. We will never be the same and hopefully we will never want to be the same. Hopefully we had learned something from the attacks on September 11th. Perhaps they have brought you closer to your loved ones, or brought you back to God. No matter what it is, never forget that while bad things are happening all around us, God loves us and is passionate about you. Nothing happens that he doesn't know. While we may not always understand, we can have peace that He does.

I have a flip calendar in my kitchen and the quote for September 11th says, "There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher." -Henry van Dyke
Pretty timely, huh.

“Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.” Psalm 9:11

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

“For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.” Proverbs 9:11


  1. I enjoyed reading what you wrote. 9/11 was such a tragic day. I too remember where I was. Aidan was less than two months old and in those days Josh was driving school bus in the mornings. Aidan had woken me up and was ready to eat. I sat down in our living room and began nursing him. I flipped on the TV because I like to watch a little bit of Good Morning America. Nothing had happened yet, so they were reporting regular news. Then they interrupted themselves and went to a shot of Diane Sawyer sitting on the couches telling us that a plane had just hit one of the towers. I have to say, I didn't think much of it at first because they were speculating that maybe it was an accident. Then the second one was hit and we all knew. Anyway, I called Josh even though he wasn't supposed to answer his phone while driving and told him quickly. He was almost done with his route so he finished up and headed to church. He said they brought a TV into the office and all sat around and watched it. I sat in the living room and watched it for a long time. I just remember it being such a sad day. I still get a little emotional over it. I cried a couple of times yesterday watching all the anniversary reports. Anyway, good article. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Debby Miller4:21 PM

    That was great, Melissa. I have the same experience as you, missing most of the tragic events that shape our country's memory EXCEPT September 11th. Earlier in 2001, we'd spent an entire day wallpapering our living room wall with a mural of NYC - with the GW Bridge and, you guessed it, the Twin Towers in the background. So as the reports came through that morning, I just stood with the remote in my hand and cried, staring at a TV showing me they were gone yet looking at my wall and seeing them still there. It reminds me that sometimes the enemy will trick us, too, into believing things are as we see them in the natural but they really are not that way in the spiritual (even though THAT day was a real event). We always have to be on the alert for his tricks, his deceptions and lately I've noticed he's stepped up his traps. Anyway, thanks for writing this - the memories are still fresh and make our prayers more urgent to ask God not to turn His back on our country, to forgive us and have mercy. It's always good to remember from where we've come to see how far we've made it. Love ya', Debby

  3. I loved reading what you wrote. It was so beautifully written. On September 11, 2001, I was at work at the company I used to work for when we heard the news. We all sat around the TV watching the reports come in and crying together. The phone rang off the hook that day with customers checking on all of our employees as everyone traveled a lot in our company. Thank the Lord everyone was safe. I attend a prayer service that night at my parents church. My Mom received a call that day that her second cousin, who worked at the Pentegon, had been killed in the attack. It really hit me that even as far away as Wisconsin, we were directly affected.

  4. wow...you are a beautiful writer it moved me. I had just got done watching commentaries on the whole incident and United 93 the movie, I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn't do anything but cry out to God. I remember the day because we had just moved to Ohio a couple of months before and it was Adam's first pastor's conference with all of the Pastor's of the church. Monday, I woke up and went to turn PBS on for Josiah (i only had one child...wow) and everthing was on the same channel. Then I saw the second plane hit the tower and dropped to my knees. All the pastor's were sent home from the conference. It was a day I will never forget. Take Care....


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