Every time something bad or momentous happens you see the signs pop up, “Lest We Forget,” “Never Forget,” “We’ll Remember,” and many variations on these. People promise to always remember how it felt the moment that the event occurred. That they’ll never forget those who died or what happened. And yet, time numbs the pain and dulls the memories.
I do still remember where I was on September 11, 2001. I had just gotten back from Honduras the day before. We were doing devotionals in the living room before starting school. And the phone rang. My sister answered it and ran to the TV to turn it on. We all walked in just in time to see the second plane hit. I remember going to the luncheon bible study for students at a local church that day numb. We prayed. We cried. My closest friends came back out to my house after as nothing was happening at school beyond watching the replays. I remember feeling sick when I realized that the plummeting debris wasn’t all debris. Watching the collapse of the towers and just the anger. I cried a lot that day. My entire hometown came out that evening for a prayer vigil. We were all united across racial, political, and religious divides. At one point we all lit candles and gathered close, holding hands, hugging, crying, as we prayed for the future. I remember the support for the Muslim gas station owner in our town. He was worried about vandals and decreased business and received the opposite.
And yet, even now thinking back on it. Those emotions are old. The unity has long since disappeared in the grind of everyday life. The lingering wars, economic disaster, and questionable policies have thrown us as a people back into holding our lines rather than holding each others hands. We have to some degree forgotten. We’ve allowed time to dull – which it has to, if it stayed fresh we’d never heal. But in healing, we have allowed the old divides to separate us. We’ve quit pretending to like each other and quit trying to make it work. It’s much easier to blame all our problems on the others than to shoulder the blame together and face the future united.
You might wonder why I’m writing about this on Independence Day. But, you see, freedom isn’t free. And maybe the line is overused but it’s still true. Our soldiers are still fighting for the freedoms we stand for as a country. And that’s why I’m posting about this. The Revolutionary War started with high treason. Men who did what they knew was right even when it seemed wrong. The Civil War was actually started over the same issue that the Revolutionary War was – taxes and money. We ended up united as a country at the end. But, not completely. And at different points in history we’ve come together with amazing results. Before falling back into our partisan ways.
So, before we say that we won’t forget. Let’s make sure that we know what it is that we’re remembering. Since the beginning of time freedom has been bought with blood. It still is today. Remember that when you go to the store. Remember that when you slam the military or the wars. They’re dying to protect your freedom to do that. When you get up and either do or don’t go to worship for the religion of your choice, remember that we protect those freedoms as a country. There are countries where being anything but the majority religion is a death sentence. Our Founding Fathers fought and died over that issue. Our soldiers today still do.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
What we have as a country is amazing. Enviable. And protected by blood. That’s something worth remembering.
Happy Independence Day