It’s hard to forget some things. Others things are hard to remember. This Friday, the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was a normal day in Mexico for me. However, yesterday, while online, I realized that I had never actually watched the original news coverage of the attacks. I was only 9 at the time and saw only parts of the coverage. That day seemed like a nightmare, because I didn’t really understand what was going on or why, but all of the adults around me were really upset. I watched the first two hours of footage from the attacks yesterday and today. This time it seemed like a nightmare because I did understand clearly what was happening and why. I cringed every time a new report came in of a new attack and every time a reporter’s voice quavered, fighting to remain calm and professional. It was sobering to think of the loss of life, of the fear that ensued, the loss of a carefree lifestyle, and of the ideals of American economy and security that seemed to crumble before our eyes as the towers crumbled.
It was not enjoyable to remember, but for some reason, I felt like it was important to experience it again, more than just remembering that it happened. Why? Why is it important to remember this tragedy? It is not so we can live in fear. It is not so we can harbor resentment. It is not so we can hold a grudge against the religion or nationality of the people who did this to us. As I spent time in prayer this morning, I realized why it was important for me to remember this. Empathy. I’m sure that all of you know of the crisis in Syria and several other nearby countries as the Islamic State uses terrorism and extreme violence to wipe out all who disagree with them. The refugees from this crisis are fleeing to all parts of the world, longing to be safe. This problem started nearly four years ago and even to those moved by it, it is hard to know how to help as the crisis drags out yet increases in intensity. I realized that because of 9/11, I could identify with these refugees in a small way. I remember what it was like to feel the fear and despair caused by terrorism. I remember the uncertainty of what tomorrow would bring. Fortunately for me, as I did not know anyone personally killed in the attacks and thanks to our country’s response to the attacks, I did not have to live in fear for long. Normalcy was achieved relatively soon after the attacks. For the Syrian refugees (and refugees from other countries in a similar situation), they are dealing with the terror daily. Instead of things returning to normal, violence continues to crescendo. They daily fear for their lives. When I remembered my own experience with terrorism (as indirectly as it affected my everyday life), I am moved to pray for those who are still experiencing that.
This morning, my church was celebrating the Mexican Independence and two baptisms. We were going around sharing prayer requests briefly and I chose not to say anything. I was not sure if I could explain what I wanted to pray for and if an event that happened 14 years ago or a problem in Syria were too far away to count as a personal prayer request. I was so encouraged when one of the very last people asked to pray for Syria. I went through most of the rest of church crying and trying to explain to my loving church family why I was crying. They are always so sweet to encourage me and understanding about me being alone in a country that is not my own.
I would encourage you to remember. Maybe in remembering, you will be moved to compassion for those who are experiencing similar or worse situations now. Maybe you will be moved to pray for those wounds that still haven’t healed after 14 years. Maybe you will be healed yourself. Here is a link to the first hour and a half of news coverage if you have not seen it or it has been a long time. September 11, 2001 As it happened
Here is a link to a Christian organization working to bring relief to some of the Syrian refugees in Europe. Samaritan’s Purse
Image is of New York City for unsplash.com.