For my generation—I’m 31 years old—9/11 was as seminal moment. I still remember that day and following weeks exactly as they happened. I was working on staff at Victory In Grace Ministries. But really “working” is a bad word, because for several days were glued to the TV as the rest of America was.
I still remember the feelings I felt on 9/11. It was as if a giant protective bubble over America had burst and now were like everyone else on the planet: vulnerable, scared, angry.
We had thought that two oceans could protect us and that we could wash our hands of the news overseas. But we couldn’t and we can’t.
I watched those towers fall, I couldn’t get enough of the story. But I also remember a lot of good that came out this monumental tragedy.
First, there was the unity. It wasn’t a fake unity, but something real, something human. For several weeks, even months, the sniping, the jealousy, the pride was stripped away. People hugged more. People cried more. People worried about family more.
I remember taking a trip across America, from Illinois to Florida. I remember seeing “God Bless America” on restaurant signs, on billboards, on gas station marquees. I remember having impromptu conversations with guys on Harleys.
Secondly, there was a call to duty. It really started with our leaders. I’ll never forget President Bush standing on top of the rubble and uniting the nation. Democrats and Republicans were together behind their leader. They sang God Bless America on the capital steps. People gave blood in droves. People went down to New York and volunteered. Churches offered relief and ministered to the sick and dying.
But that was 8 years ago. And a lot has changed, for me personally and in our country. I’ve since gotten married, bought a house, had two kids (on on the way), wrote two books, and am pastoring a church. It’s been an active 8 years.
Our country has changed in many ways. We’ve been engaged in the fight against terror. Fear is now a part of our vocabulary.
We have no where near the unity we once had. In fact, we may be more partisan than ever. Cable news and talk shows are stirring up the political anger and hyberbole. And now there are so many ways to hate on people, through blogs and comments on articles and Twitter and the like.
Sadly, I don’t think we’re a more Christian nation. Immediately after 9/11 there was a short-term revival, but it didn’t last, because it wasn’t necessarily based on truth, but on religion.
I’ve also grown up. I used to think America needed political solutions. I used to think that every election was the “most important of our lifetimes” and now I think each election is important but just an election. I now fully realize that our hope is not in man, our hope is not in a party. Our hope is not in a tired set of bullet-points, but in a Person, Jesus Christ. There is evil in the world, because there is sin in the world. But there is a Savior who offers redemption, freedom, and hope.
Two really great 9/11 retrospectives: