It was a moving experience. It was one of those vacation highlights that on the one hand you didn’t enjoy while on the other hand you did enjoy it. It was heart-wrenching to see the images afresh of the twin towers falling as we walked through the 9/11 museum. Yet, it was necessary to see because it powerfully reminded us of heroism, patriotism, and fragility of life. After visiting the museum, we stood reflectively near the memorial pools chatting as a family. Neither of our kids experienced the actual events of that day. So, we talked about why people would do such a horrific act, the significance of a memorial, and how it has since shaped our country. As I think about these events in my mind, I am reminded again of some significant truths.
First, it is not simply about sincerity. We live in a religious pluralistic society. I oftentimes talk to people about spiritual matters. Many are believers, some are not. One of the reoccurring validations for a vibrant spirituality is sincerity. As long as a person is sincere it must be valid. Truth is secondary to a person’s experience. Or, more precisely, truth is associated with a person’s sincerity. This logic falls apart when you consider 9/11. The hijackers were incredibly sincere in their religious convictions. They died for them. Yet, I know of no one who would state they were justified in their actions. Sincerity does not equal legitimacy. What we believe in matters immensely. This is why Christ appeals to me. I believe biblical truth to best explain life and reality.
Second, it is important to remember. It has been a while since I deeply thought about 9/11. Visiting the memorial triggered numerous emotions and recollections about that day and the days that followed. Yet, realistically, we move on from it. We forget. Reflections dissipate. Oh, this is so true of tragedies in life. They are powerful in the moment. But, then as time passes, our memory fades. I think it is important to remember historic events so that we can be reminded of what is so precious in America – freedom to worship and speak, a couple of the very things that triggered hatred by the hijackers. One of the questions my son asked me again and again was why would someone do such a thing? I explained how some people hate the democratic values we espouse. The 9/11 memorial reminded me of how precious it is to live in America where freedom is freely granted. It is a blessing to be a citizen of this country.
Third, life is precious. We purchased a book to remember this day. It chronicles the events of 9/11. We wanted something to show our kids for future remembrance. It is hard to read certain aspects of the book. It records conversations by loved ones on the phone prior to the collapse of the twin towers. One heart-wrenching account was a wife who was chatting with her husband up to the point the phone went dead as the north tower collapsed. Oh, my heart broke to read these stories. These are people going about a normal work day. It was an ordinary Tuesday. No one expected these events. Yet, in a moment, life changed for countless families. For all of them, I imagine they would love to have an ordinary day again with their loved ones. Life is fragile. Yet, so oftentimes I think of life as bothersome rather than precious. I need to survive this day rather than live it graciously and with gratitude. Yes, life is precious. Today is precious. Oh, it is good to be reminded of tragedy as it refocuses our lives on what is important and dear.