Remember the former things, those of long ago (….) — Isaiah 46:9a
Reflecting on this eve of the 20th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks, my mind thinks of the Monday night before, September 10, 2001. Our nation of 300+ million Americans was clueless of the atrocities that lay just hours ahead. We were all occupied doing this or that, going about the normal busyness on a weeknight just a few days into the new school year. Only the twenty hijackers–all males from the Middle East–and their henchmen were aware of their evil plot they were preparing to unleash.
For those who do not know–and many among the younger set do not–the Islamist terrorists hijacked four commercial jets early that fateful morning. They targeted planes departing from East Coast airports to fly to the West Coast. Why? Cross-country flights would be full of jet fuel, thus insuring a larger firebomb upon impact. Two crashed into the New York Trade Center Towers. One crashed into the Pentagon, which many Virginians do not realize is actually in Virginia, not Washington D.C. The fourth was brought down by brave passengers who sacrificed their lives but saved a fourth building and its occupants.
One reason so many do not understand 9/11 is because its history has been twisted and manipulated by so many, almost from the very beginning. I remember it was by the first anniversary of 9/11–in 2002–the National Education Association (NEA) was instructing its members in the teacher union not to “cast blame.”
In other words, NEA members were supposed to somehow tell their students that 9/11 “just happened,” like some freak of nature. Another reason among many I never joined the NEA in my teaching career that began in 1987.
So think about modern-day America. When discussing the coordinated 9/11 terrorist attack involving twenty hijackers and a worldwide terror network, we are not supposed to “cast blame” or “condemn” anyone for being responsible. In contrast, regarding acts of nature like hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. we can gleefully “cast blame.” We are told we can and should blame the “climate-deniers,” Big Oil, the Trump voters, you name it.
No wonder so many are confused.
And after twenty years, Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban…again. It just happened in August, in a period of about fifteen days. A British military commander has called the debacle the biggest military disaster for the West since WWII.
A famous saying is, “Don’t curse the darkness; light a candle.”
In that spirit, rather than obsess about how 9/11 is poorly taught, I humbly share this blog post that contains first-hand observations and memories from that day, plus some other insights gained in the intervening years.
None of us can undo the damage or take away any of the pain from twenty years ago, but we can seek to honor both the dead and survivors–and with God’s help avoid a repeat–by understanding and acknowledging the history and events of that day.
– Scott Dreyer