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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Of Life and Love and Death (Remembering 9/11)

Ten years ago today, at the same time as I'm writing this, United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport.  In four minutes, American Airlines Flight 11 will crash into the World Trade Center's north tower.  Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 will crash into the south tower.  Another 34 minutes later, American Airlines Flight 77 will crash into the western side of the Pentagon.

It was about this time that the passengers of Flight 93 became aware of what was taking place in New York City.  It was then they understood that the hijackers were not taking their plane to an airport.  They faced a choice whether to sit idly by and allow themselves to be used as an instrument of death or to act and become an instrument of death by their own choosing.

Having made their choice, the passengers began the mission with two words that make the heart of this American beat proudly, "Let's roll."  At that same moment, units of the NYPD and NYFD were on the scene of the WTC doing their heroic best to evacuate the building.

Twenty minutes later the south tower would begin to collapse.  As people fought for life and death to escape the WTC, a life and death struggle was taking place in the skies.  A few minutes later, Flight 93 crashed into a reclaimed coal strip mine near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, just twenty minutes short of Washington, D.C.

As the passengers of Flight 93 finished one suicide mission, others raced into the north tower on another.  Twenty-five minutes later, the north tower collapsed on them.  Efforts continued amidst the ashes and wreckage for survivors.

On that day, the lives of 2,977 were taken from us.  All were civilians, with the exception of 55 military personnel at the Pentagon.  Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives - we were all brothers and sisters.

For me, it is impossible to properly memorialize or commemorate this occasion.  I will not write one of those  "Where was I?" remembrances because in this story I don't matter.  This isn't about me.

This is about the passengers of Flight 93 without whom the White House or the Capitol may not still be standing today.  It's about the Pentagon workers, the fireman, police and bystanders who sacrificed themselves with no thought for their own life.

This is a story of life and love and death.  This is a story of America. 

While the enemy embarked on an organized suicide mission to reign death from the skies, unknown Americans with no guidance or direction, spontaneously offered their life to save the life of another. 

"Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends" 
John 15:13 (NASB)

In what could have been written off as a day of defeat for America, we can celebrate the life and love of those who were lost to us that day.  Humble men and women who fought to their dying breath for an America that will never be lost as long as we continue to  produce men and women such as them.

CASSIE (9/11) version *
written by Lacey Mosley with alternate lyrics by Sam Ritter

The nation watched in horror
as our peaceful world was shaken
No answer apparent, why life
and love was taken.

was written in the ashes.
The Son gave to them a peace
beyond understanding passes.

They didn't love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Inspired in their footsteps
we will march ahead.
Don't be shocked that people died.
Be surprised you're still alive.

All heads are bowed in silent reverence.
The floor is wet with tears of sorrowful remembrance.
The altar is filled with hearts of repentance.
Perfect love kills all fear, rejoice in this deliverance.

They didn't love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Inspired in their footsteps
we will march ahead.
Don't be shocked that people died.
Be surprised you're still alive.

*  In 2003, the band Flyleaf released the song Cassie, which was the writer, Lacey Mosley's view of the Columbine massacre.  Cassie refers to Cassie Bernall, the girl who was supposedly asked whether she believed in God and who was shot after answering affirmatively.  Much of the song could have easily been written of 9/11, so I wrote a few alternate lyrics and the beautiful Dawn will sing this at church today.

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