We Are Strong: The United States After September 11th

These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. - President George W. Bush, Address to the Nation, September 11, 2001

Ten years after the words above were first spoken, they have been proven true over and over again in large and small ways.

These are some of the ways I noticed their truth just today.

I started this day watching coverage of September 11th Tenth Anniversary events in New York. I heard stories of the incredible care and thought that had been put into the placement of the names on the National Memorial at the former Ground Zero. Family requests to list names in certain places, perhaps close to colleagues or fellow first-responders, had been honored. Relatives of those lost to the terrorist attacks ten years ago were the first allowed into the memorial; it will not open to the public until tomorrow. We are a nation which affords dignity to and understands the needs of the grieving. Our compassion makes us strong.

Story after story after story of ordinary people who put others before themselves on that horrific day, too many times paying the ultimate price because they had done so. We are a country that raises up people who unselfishly serve others when the need is great. Our servant hearts make us strong.

I went to church this morning, where the first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was a large table full of donations for families affected by wildfires that have raged across Central Texas over the past week. Our willingness to meet the needs of strangers in dire circumstances makes us strong.

As part of our worship service, we watched a reflective video on the events of September 11th, and we prayed for God's continuing mercy for the families and the country forever changed by those events. President Obama made no speeches at the 9/11 Anniversary events in New York today, but simply read aloud Psalm 46. A large proportion of our citizens are religious people who acknowledge that as humans we do not have the wisdom, understanding, or resilience in and of ourselves to persevere under great adversity. Our faith makes us strong.

I enjoyed lunch out with friends, laughing and discussing plans for vacations and new homes and schoolwork. I observed similar groups around us at the restaurant, and later as I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee. Regular people going on with their daily lives, enjoying one another's company and talking of the things that are important to them. Carrying on makes us strong.

There is no doubt September 11th forever impacted our country. In terms of human lives alone, nearly 3,000 people were killed that terrible day, and over 6,000 of our brave volunteer military members have paid the ultimate price as a result of events set in motion ten years ago. 

There is also no doubt that the purpose of the evil visited on us that day has not been realized.

I am proud of my country today and blessed to be a citizen of the United States of America. We will never forget, but we will continue to press on.