On Remembering

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On Remembering

On Remembering:

Wish you could remember exact dates? Like your in-law’s anniversary or a friend’s birthday? I do.

But there are some dates, I shall never forget.

One occurred this past summer in New York City. It was July 30, 2011. That was the date fourteen of the wide-eyed Leslie clan: our three children, three in-law children; six grandchildren; my husband and I arrived in Times Square. We visited historical sites; such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island; saw Broadway plays; hung out in Central Park, and played our made-up family version of the Amazing Race game. Leslie teams rushed along busy streets; entered and exited sultry subways, finding clues along the way: Our objective was to finish the race, first. All the while, American freedom covered and protected us.

Then we stopped to remember 9/11.

While I walked toward the site of where the twin towers once stood, my emotions plunged from upbeat to somber. Still, a sense of courage stirred within me. I’ve been here before. I thought. Twice.

Déjà Vu.

In 1999, my husband, Robert and I walked through one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC). I don’t recall which one, north or south. I do recall, though, that as I walked through a tower, a blur of business suits and pantsuits stuck in my mind. Employees were rushing to, or from lunch breaks. And as I exited the tower, I remembered dark blue uniforms. The police, protecting lower Manhattan. And I recalled sirens and a fire truck screeching along a financial district street. Those were the scenes of my memory from 1999.

Fast forward two years. Again, the setting was lower Manhattan. The date was September 11, 2001. I sat in my pajamas as scenes flashed before my eyes on national television. A hijacked passenger airliner struck the north tower. No. It’s not real. I thought. Minutes later, another airliner crashed into the south tower. Finally, reality sank to my gut. I watched as flames of fire burst through the humongous hole of the south tower; and as men and women jumped from high-rise windows.

Then—I sat horrified when each tower collapsed.

The once blue sky turned black . . . then grey. There was a storm of debris. And the bright sun diminished to an orange glow, trapped behind layers of smoke. One by one, men and women, cloaked from head to toe, in ash emerged from the wall of smoke. They had escaped the fiery inferno.

So on, September 11, 2001: From the twin towers; to the Pentagon, and to a field near Shanksville, Pa, Americans were blindsided by evil. Until – – the passengers of Flight 93 courageously stared into the face of the enemy. America was at war. They stormed the cockpit and overpowered the hijackers. The aircraft crashed before it reached its final destination (possibly the Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C.). The actions and death of the passenger heroes on Flight 93 saved many lives.

Still I will not diminish the pain and loss of any life, even in acts of heroism.

A couple of days after 9/11, I would hear about the perfectly steel-beam cross found in the rubble of the north tower. The cross, which represented a symbol of hope and healing to millions, resided on the east side of the World Trade area, until recently. It was removed from the site; because of a Constitutional equal protection lawsuit.

That saddens me.

It reminds me of another cross, a wooden cross; that another group would strike from history books, for a few. It’s the cross of Christ’s crucifixion, where evil attempted to destroy good permanently. But could not.

As I read Bible passages describing the crucifixion, I imagine the event that occurred over two thousand years ago.

Bang – – Bang.

Muscular arms raised mallets and struck sharp nails into His flesh. Blood gushed.
Onlooking rulers sneered at Him, while others lifted, and raised the heavy cross. Christ’s blood dripped onto their heads and hands.


The upright post dropped into the hole. The cross tottered. Excruciating pain shot through His body. And darkness fell over the whole land.

On a wooden cross, the One without sin breathed His last breath. He died for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of all mankind.

Later, His body was wrapped in linen and laid in a tomb.

That was the day evil defeated good. Or did it?

Three days later, Christ arose! His resurrection provided the way for every man to be in relationship with his Creator—the God of forgiveness and love.

I pause.

Yes, I admit that I forget some anniversary and birth dates.

But I will not forget July 30, 2011: The date my family arrived in NYC for our reunion.

And I will never forget September 11, 2001: The date when American freedom was attacked. I pray for the families of the thousands of 9/11 victims; for them to find peace and comfort; for them to love kindness, and to not lose hope.

And I will not forget the steel-beam cross found in the rubble of the WTC. It reminds me to also pray for two other groups. I pray for those who seek to destroy freedom. I pray that they find peace; and come to know a just, but loving God. And I also pray for those who rise against the cross. That they realize, they can remove a symbol, but they can never destroy Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

And so, I choose not to gaze toward those who have committed these evil atrocities. Rather I gaze upon my Lord. And His response.

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing . . .'” (Luke 23:33-34 NASB).

(Resource: Never Forget, September 11, 2001, Special memorial Edition.)