Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 2,977 innocent victims, some just identified.
In 2001, I was the Dean of Students at South Haven Christian School near Valpariso, Indiana. I was teaching a high school Bible class when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower in New York City. A coworker came into the classroom to inform me and, at the time, we thought it could have been a tragic accident.
However, when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower shortly after class, those of us watching the news in school’s main office knew we were under attack.
Then, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon a little more than a half hour later.
The School Administrator and I decided to hold a special chapel service, at the time we were not sure how many other planes had been hijaked. We knew of at least one other, United Airlines Flight 93, but did not know what it’s target was.
In the quickly assembled chapel service, the students, staff, and teachers of our school prayed for the families of those who lost their lives, those trapped inside the twin towers, those on the missing aircraft, and those still in harm’s way.
And then we learned the fate of Flight 93, that went down in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers courageously attempted to retake the plane from the hijakers. They lost their lives, but possibly saved countless others as the likely target for that plane was the Capitol or White House.
It was horriffic. I still remember vividly watching video of Flight 175 crashing into the south tower and video of people falling, jumping, to their deaths, forever etched into my memory.
My oldest daughter, Kelvey, was just two days away from her fifth birthday. My son, Morgan, was three-years-old. My youngest daughter, Lily, was not yet two.
We had to reassure our oldest two that they were safe and guard them from the images constantly displayed on TV.
I remember the sense of fear, and I was nervous boarding a flight a day after the FAA allowed flights to resume to speak at a high school retreat at a Christian camp in North Dakota.
September 11, 2001 reminded me of how fragile life is. It also showed the American spirit as people all over the country rushed to help those in need. We were united as Americans.
The unity on display after 9/11 is not something I have seen since.
We have an entire generation born after 9/11. I noticed when setting up social media for a client, in the Meta Business Center’s calendar it reminds us of holidays and special events, but on 9/11, no reminder. In Canva, there were no 9/11 templates for social media posts.
It seems we are destined to forget.
I’m sure my grandparents felt similarly about December 7, 1941 when the Japanese, in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, destroyed much of our navy’s Pacific fleet, killing thousands. (My youngest daughter’s birthday falls on Pearl Harbor Day.)
They had to actively remember, reflect, and pass on that history to those born after.
We must do the same. We must remember and we must reflect as a nation. We need to pray for families missing loved ones today. We must pray for those still suffering from injuries from that day or illnesses contracted during the clean-up.
We must never forget.