September 12 and Beyond

Those of us that remember September 11 know exactly what we were doing when we heard that planes flew through buildings.  We remember the shock, the feeling of helplessness, the mind-blowing pictures on TV screens.

But do we remember?

Do we remember the changes in our country on September 12 and beyond?

There were prayer meetings in churches all over America that week.  On Wednesday and Thursday and Friday when churches were usually closed, they opened the doors and strangers piled in trying to make sense of what happened. Strangers prayed together for families we would never meet.  We prayed for our leadership to have wisdom.  We prayed for our armed forces to have success and safety.  We prayed for police and fire personnel to find people with air still in their lungs.

The next 12 months was filled with flags:  flags everywhere…on car windows, front porches, even school folders. A constant reminder that, as a people, we were united.  We were the United States.

The news was full of politicians reaching across the aisle, not just with handshakes, but with embraces. A united purpose to defend and protect our country.  Our family of Americans.

But time has passed… not much really.  In the scope of history, 17 years is not even the next page in a History book.  However, we scoff at those who pray and we have lost respect for our armed forces, our police, our firefighters. I rarely see a flag in a car window.  And politicians?  I don’t even need to comment on that!

This week as I looked up YouTube memorials for my children to see, I still had a lump in my throat. I still had tears streaming down my face as I choked back a sob.  I have never met a single person that had a family member that died that day.  Not that I know of anyway.  But the senselessness of it, the bravery of passengers downing their own plane in a field, the thought of those caught on floors above the impact, the courage of firefighters and police going INTO those buildings and INTO the chaos….it overwhelms me.  I may never be able to process it fully.

This year, however, was different.  As I reflected the 180-degree change in my country away from the unity of September 12, I am saddened.  Deeply saddened.  There was something about those days that lifted our spirits and burned in our hearts. Do we now have hearts of stone?


Heather Smith


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