Remembering September 11th

It’s been almost 20 years since the attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon shocked the world. We all have a story to tell about how we heard about this attack and how we responded.

In 2001, I had just graduated from college and was staying with my parents on September 10th before I travelled with my grandmother, mother and sister up to a Lutheran Retreat Center in Minnesota where I would work for the fall. The night of September 10th my parents and I watched a movie about a terrorist attack in Washington DC. We liked the movie but didn’t think it was realistic. The next morning, my mother yelled up the stairs, “Josh, that movie is happening on TV.” And I saw the smoldering tower as I worried another one may emerge to hit the other.

What I remember about September 11th is there was the confusion of being hurt and the desire of many to seek retaliation, without knowing fully who to blame. I remember friends being ready to join the military, and many did, without being sure who they were fighting. But in those first hours after the attack, three generations of my family decided to get in our car and move forward with our trip. As we travelled we tried to make sense of what had happened, listening to my grandmother tell stories of the confusion of being in Norway when the Nazis took over and in the Philippines as a prisoner of war of the Japanese military. We listened to the radio as we travelled North and the DJs offering words of support and the information we had about the attacks as well as announcements of prayer gatherings at churches.

When we arrived at the retreat center, I found myself around senior citizens at an “Elderversity” and realized what a resource they were for younger generations who had never been through anything like this attack. While I felt away from the experience of much of the country in the days following the attack, I interviewed dozens of people about how they got through the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, WWII and the Great Depression, the shocking assassinations of presidents and politicians.

Thinking back to the images of the towers and listening to the names of those who were lost, can still be a raw experience and bring us back to that initial shock. I hope we can also remember how we got through it and who we leaned on for wisdom. It may remind us of the resources we have in the people around us during times like these and during the times of our lives where we feel like we did on September 11th, 2001.

This Sunday is Grandparents Day and as we remember how we get through difficult times we can remember the gift of generational support to get through hard times and how a congregation can be an extended family of support when times are tough.

Pastor Josh