Where were you when the horrifying events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfolded? This question ranks in importance along with similar questions of another generation:
· Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?
· Where were you when you heard that Elvis had died?
· Where were you when the space shuttle Challenger exploded?
Each of those tragedies has helped to define and shape us as a society, in one respect rocking the foundations of our seemingly placid existence, in another forcing us to re-examine our core convictions, values and beliefs.
When the incredible scenes of 9-11 took place, I was at work, sitting at my desktop computer. I don’t recall what it was I was writing. Within the context of the day’s, whatever it was – no matter how vital – seemed inconsequential.
Who can ever forget the images of the North Tower, officially known as One World Trade Center, smoke billowing out, and then minutes later seeing the second jet slam into the South Tower, casting aside any speculation that the first was just a horrendous accident?
A friend of mine, Jerry, worked on Wall Street and would have been in the North Tower that morning except for oversleeping after staying up late to watch his favorite team play on “Monday Night Football.” It had been his custom to get off the subway, take an elevator to visit friends on the 79th floor where he used to have an office, then leave for his business that had moved down the street.
Ironically, another tragedy probably spared Jerry’s life on 9-11. His wife, Camy, had died a couple of months earlier of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Only weeks before she had presented Jerry with the high-tech clock radio he failed to set properly to awaken him that fateful September morning. So when the jets slammed into the towers, Jerry was at home in Bayonne, New Jersey, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the morning newspaper before heading to work a little late.
Needless to say, he didn’t go to work that day.
Mountains of words have been written about 9-11, its aftermath, the war on terror that has been waged ever since, and the impact still reverberating for individuals and families directly and indirectly affected. Just as occurred following the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy and other heinous events, 9-11 stripped away another layer of our society’s collective “innocence” (and perhaps, ignorance), along with any semblance of a Pollyanna spirit and trust in human purity we ever had.
But if there is a positive to be found, anything beneficial, it’s the necessary reminder that one day we all will die. It might not be in calamity that generates headlines and news reports around the world. But our time here on earth, one way or another, is limited. So we should cherish every moment.
As Ephesians 5:16 tells us, “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” The moments of our lives appear and flee just as quickly, never to be enjoyed again.
Amid the sadness of 9-11, let’s rejoice in today. We won’t see it again. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).