This week our nation looks back to remember and reflect on Sept. 11, 2001, otherwise known as 9/11. Twenty years have passed, and an entire generation has grown up with no knowledge of a world without TSA security lines, a world where passengers stepped off the plane to be embraced by loved ones at the gate, a world where spectators entered public buildings and stadiums without metal detectors and bag searches. Mid-twenties and younger have learned about 9/11 from history books.
Those of us who lived through it remember where we were and what we were doing when the airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. That moment changed our world.
The Atlantic and Pacific oceans vanished on 9/11. Not literally, of course. But prior to that date we felt isolated from a distant and violent world in which terrorists attacked innocent crowds. We felt protected by the vast bodies of water that separated us from Europe, Africa and Asia. After 9/11 those barriers no longer existed. We were connected and vulnerable, a feeling that has increased with cybersecurity issues, COVID-19, and the fall of Afghanistan.
Every generation has its 9/11 to remember, a staggering event that freezes the moment in memory. For those of us who grew up in the 1960s, it was November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy fell to an assassin’s bullet at Dealy Plaza in Dallas. For our parents it was December 7, 1941, a quiet Sunday morning when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Every generation experiences events that threaten to steal their freedom, destroy their dreams and leave them frozen with fear. But one event stands alone that places all others in perspective. One event above all others enables us to rise above our fears to embrace the future. September 11, 2001, November 22, 1963 and December 7, 1941, are all dated in reference to the birth of Jesus Christ.
The prophet Isaiah predicted Jesus’ life when He wrote, “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10) Paul summed up His significance when he said, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His son.” (Galatians 4:4) It was the perfect moment. Everything in history is dated in reference to His birth as BC, AD or BCE, CE. From Him flows the faith and courage to face any disaster, to overcome any foe and to live with confidence knowing that goodness and righteousness will prevail upon the earth.
An old song captures the experience of millions who have persevered and prevailed through devastating tragedies for more than two thousand years. Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote it and first sang it 50 years ago. “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know who holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives … we can face uncertain days, because He lives.”