On Monday, December 8, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke to a Joint Session of the US Congress.
Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. . . . As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
Thirty years before my time, that date is significant to me in view of history, but the personal distance of it doesn’t affect me quite the same as it does those who were living at the time.
Instead, today is a date that hits me particularly hard. September 11 is my date that lives in infamy, that reminds me of the character of the onslaught against us.
September 11, 2001
I still have the shoes I wore to work that day. The soles are melted and they’re caked in ash. I keep them in a shoebox with the word “deliverance” written all around it. They’re kind of like my ark, a reminder of God’s presence and the life I owe to Him. ~Stanley Praimnath, 9/11/01 Survivor
Many of my readers remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It’s been seventeen years, yet my throat still constricts with the memories of that day, of the sacrifice so many gave to protect those they could and to save many more.
On November 10, 2001, President George Bush said to the United Nations gathered in New York, “Time is passing. Yet for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. And the people of my country will remember those who have plotted against us.”
I remember the helplessness I felt as I watched the televised coverage that terrible morning. Because we were active duty and in the final stages of moving from one base to another, all of our household goods were on a ship heading south out of Alaska. We were awakened by the friends we were staying with to the news from friends on the east coast. And as the knowledge of what our eyes were struggling to process began to seep into our brains, we knew we had to check in with our command. We spent most of that first day catching glimpses as we tried to figure out if we were still moving.
As we hit the traffic on base and as I watched the Airmen and their civilian counterparts scramble, I remember the overwhelming weight on my own shoulders as I realized what this would mean for every active duty member and their families in the days ahead. No matter what the politicians decided over the next few days, we were at war.
September 11, 2012
Eleven years later, September 11 took on a fresh meaning. A reminder of the past echoed into my life. I don’t know how many of you recognize that date. Whenever I hear most people talk about it, they reference the name assigned by the media: The Battle of Benghazi.
As much as my heart ached for the families of Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service Office Smith, CIA Contractors Woods and Doherty, my heart cried out for my friend. The one whose husband was deployed. To a location in the middle east she didn’t know. All she knew was that he was somewhere in the areas that were exploding in violence.
As we sat at work and prayed for his safety, all we could do was hope and wait for a phone call that blessedly came several hours later telling us that the ongoing demonstrations had trapped him in a hotel, but he was safe.
Honoring those we lost
When something doesn’t hit your life, it’s easy to neglect its importance. I don’t mean to diminish December 7th, but it was so long ago and so far away that it doesn’t feel like it cost me anything. For my children, the world changed on September 11, 2001, but they were too young to recognize it. They don’t remember what our country looked like before the war, don’t understand the major shift that day required.
The best I can do is remind myself of all the heroes on dates like December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001, and September 11, 2012.
- Taking a moment to recognize sacrifices made, I humbly offer appreciation and gratitude.
- I choose kindness and watch for opportunities to serve, honoring those who gave everything for others.
- Digging deep, I follow the example of those who died, pulling forth a bit more courage to tackle the daunting task in front of me.
- On memorial days like today, I stand tall and embrace the life others have fought to protect.
September 11 impressed upon us that life is a precious gift. . . . And I think we all have a duty to devote at least a small portion of our daily lives to ensuring that neither America nor the world ever forgets September 11. ~Senator Bill Frist
We honor our heroes in all kinds of ways. What are some of your favorite ways to remember September 11 and other significant holidays like this?
More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in my Home Front Heroines series. It’s the story of a real-life family enlisted in the United States Air Force, and it starts on September 11, 2001.
After her husband returns from a deployment to Saudi Arabia, Lori Braxton begins noticing little differences in his behavior. He’s withdrawn, moody, and can’t sleep. Could it be the stress of military life after the 9/11 attack on New York? Maybe it’s the new assignment in Montana or the financial problems he ignores. Perhaps it’s forces she can’t see and doesn’t know how to fight, or maybe she’s a bigger part of the problem than she wants to admit.
What is God doing? Is He even paying attention?
Lori tries to attend church and do what God asks, but the truth is she doesn’t really hear Him speak. Between money strains, pregnancy hormones, and young ones underfoot, Lori spirals into depression.
What good could God possibly bring from the mess surrounding her?