20 years later

September 13, 2021


Picture from Rifle Paper Company World Traveler Map (found HERE)

It has been 20 years since America witnessed one of the worst terrorist attacks in our History. This past week during my History classes we discussed September 11th and I showed my students part of a documentary about September 11th (as many of them were exceptionally young or to young to remember that day) as a way to help them understand the tragedy and the bravery of so many on this day. It was a way to not only "pause and remember" but to reflect on the incredible amount of freedom that we experience in America and to remember and pray for those who have given so much for our country in the past and to thank and pray for those who are serving our country today.

Pic found HERE

I would also share my personal story of being on the first international flight allowed back into the country, dealing with the horror of lost loved ones and friends (and of friends who lost so many people that day), and of finding so much hope through the kindness of strangers and of a country rallying together.

Seven years ago I walked back into Newark Airport for the first time in 13 years and was overcome and struck by the differences. Instead of Air Marshall's guarding our flight and the tension that came with our long international flight and the regulations of being the first flight back into the US, my flight from California was peaceful as many people slept for the duration.

Instead of the stewards and stewardesses crying, they were smiling.

Instead of the passengers singing "God Bless America", we landed silently.

Instead of rows and rows of planes not moving at Newark, planes were steadily taking off the ground.

Instead of being greeted by soldiers from the National Guard lined up at our gate to greet and escort us to immigration lines, I walked off the plane alone.

Instead of Newark being a chaotic scene of red cross workers, rows and rows of cots,  family members and loved ones in tears, and the haunted look of despair, Newark was busy with people excited to get to their destinations.

I paused to look out at the exact place that I stood at 13 years ago and was overcome with emotion.
Emotion at the changes. Emotion for those that lost so much that day. Emotion for the way that our country rallied together and responded to the crisis. Emotion for those who continue to grieve their lost loved ones. Emotion for living in a country that fights for freedom despite incredible odds and terror. 

As we stop to remember the loss of loved ones I thank God for living in a country that is free.  A country that though we may not agree with everything and feels completely divided right now is blessed beyond measure and rebuilds after tragedy. 

My heart goes out to all who lost a loved one this tragic day 20 years ago. May you feel the comfort and the love of so many around the nation and around the world as we pause to reflect on the bravery of so many not only on Saturday, but each day. May the legacy that we build from that time help us today. 

I pray that we always remember September 11th and honor those who were lost, encourage the hearts of those who are grieving lost loved ones, and remember the bravery of so many.

This picture above is of Father Mychal Judge who was killed on September 11th.  The day before he gave his last message and I wanted to share part of it with you today:

"Thank you Lord for life.  Thank you for love.  Thank you for goodness.  Thank you for work.  Thank you for family.  Thank you for friends.  Thank you for every gift because we know that every gift comes from you, and without you, we have and are nothing.  So, as we celebrate this day in thanksgiving to you, keep our hearts and minds open. Let us enjoy each other's company, and most of all, let us be conscious of Your presence in our lives and in a special way in the lives of all those who have gone before us.  And Father we make our prayer, as always, in Jesus' name who lives with You forever and ever.

That's the way it is.  Good days.  And bad days.  Up days.  Down days.  Sad days.  Happy days.  But never a boring day on this job.  You do what God has called you to do.  You show up.  You put one foot in front of another.  You get on the rig and you go out and you do the job - which is a mystery.  And a surprise.  You have no idea when you get on that rig.  No matter how big the call.  No matter how small.  You have no idea what God is calling you to.  But he needs you.  He needs me.  He needs all of us. "

- Father Mychal Judge (September 10th, 2001)-

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