Just numbers -but numbers that no longer primarily signify a date in the calendar, but a day in history- numbers that immediately bring to mind one of the most catastrophic events of recent times
- 911 happened 10 years ago today
I guess that as with the death of Princess Diana, or if we are old enough, the assassination of President Kennedy, we can all remember where we were when we heard the news that at 846 am New York time an aircraft had hit one of the twin towers at 903am the 2nd tower was hit by 1028 both towers had collapsed.
Nearly 3000 people died that day in the towers and on the aircraft
There have been greater tragedies with a larger loss of human life but I suppose 911 lives in our minds because it happened in one the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and( in a day of 24 hour news) images were beamed into the living rooms of millions
• we watched in disbelief as airplanes flew into the buildings
• we wept as we saw people leaping to their deaths trying to escape the flames
• we watched in horror as the towers collapsed
• and we cried again as we heard phone calls of passengers on the hijacked planes tell their families for the last time just how much they loved them
This was an evil day, but a day punctuated by good deeds and acts of love and heroism
Moira Smith 38 years old had been in the New York police department 13 years & had a 2 year old daughter yet she went in and out of the world trade centre after it was hit she had the chance to leave- but she chose to stay and help- Moira paid for that decision with her life
Welles Crowther was an equities trader
When the planes hit the tower he too had the opportunity to leave but instead with calm authority he helped the injured and organised the distressed and disorientated , and is credited with saving at least 19 lives that day -Welles body was found with those of the fire fighters
In their final moments these and many others chose to serve and save others
10 years on- how will we choose to mark the events of that terrible day?
It is vital not to respond with hatred and hearts that seek revenge
Some will reflect quietly on the ,lives lost that day and lives lost in Iraq Afghanistan and London since that day
Others of us will perhaps listen to a memorial service on the radio or the TV and perhaps weep again at the sadness of it all
Perhaps the best way though is to follow in less dramatic and final ways the example of Moira and Welles and others
We should deliberately choose as they did to love, to bless and to serve others.
Jesus told us there are 2 great commandments ,to love God and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and in parables and elsewhere, Jesus made it clear that our neighbour is not simply the person who lives next door ,but anyone from whatever background who is in need.
Many people on 911 looked around them saw the need and did what they could -They paid a high price
It is unlikely we will be called to pay the same price but we can all look around our community ,and see the lonely, the distressed ,the vulnerable -they are neighbours too
Jesus calls us to bless and love them as we love ourselves !