16 years. It feels like an eternity ago when I think back to the events of 9/11, to the thousands of lives that were lost, to the emergency services brothers and sisters that we lost, and those that we continue to lose today due to 9/11 disease and the varieties of cancer that plague responders.
Every year, as the anniversary approaches, we see things like Never Forget social media posts, and a renewed sense of patriotism that quickly washes away as the anniversary passes. Working for a college, I try to engage my students in a discussion about the events of that day, but with every passing year, there is less of a connection to it. The current freshman college student would have been 2 when the towers were struck and aside from being a topic of discussion in a history class, there will likely be no direct connection.
I was sitting in church yesterday listening to the hymn, and it took everything I had emotionally not to break down in tears.
The hymn, “Here I am, Lord” (United Methodist Hymnal No. 593) says,
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry,
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Refrain: Here I am, Lord. Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
How many of our brothers and sisters in emergency services, and in the armed forces have stood up when there was danger, including the destruction left by Hurricane Harvey, the current devastation imparted by Hurricane Irma and the secondary punch of Hurricane Jose. While listening to this hymn
I could picture the responders climbing the stairs in the North and South Towers, waging war against an enemy like they had numerous times before, in hopes of rescuing the citizens that they had sworn to protect. I thought about my friend, who works for a career fire department in Florida, who sent his family to safety while he does everything he can for the citizens that he swore to protect. I think about my family, which is predominantly police officers, who leave their families to protect the public that they swore to protect and this hymn just resonates with me.
I’m not a big preacher of religion and I’m not attempting to persuade anyone in one direction or
another, but take a moment, read the lyrics and see what visual imagery you come up with. Say a prayer for those that we have lost, those who are suffering and those who are on the front lines daily protecting all of us. Those who have raised their hands and said, Here I am Lord, Send me.