There are certain dates that we never forget, some personal, and some national. Personally we all remember our birthday. If you became a Christian later in life, you probably remember your second birthday. While for some the exact date may be a little fuzzy, you at least remember the month or the season it was in and what the year was. Married people remember their anniversary. We remember these times because they are significant milestones in our continuing life, touch points that evoke memories of the nexus points of our existence.
The same is true for nations. We remember July 4, 1776 as the birthday of our nation and while many do not know the date, we should remember January 1, 1863, the day the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves within the borders of the United States, as our second birthday when freedom came to all Americans.
But as a nation we also remember other dates, such December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001. These are days that cut deep into the heart of our nation and tried the mettle of our national soul. In 1941 we rose to the occasion and over the next four years met the dangerous challenge. That generation has been called our greatest by recent pundits and historians. In 2001, at least when looking at our internal response, that of our first responders, and of those who came in to deal with and those who came to clean up the aftermath, both physical and to our nations soul, we also met the challenge. How we continue to meet the larger challenge of what the events of September 11th brought to light is still a matter of debate. But we are hopeful we will meet that challenge also.
Remembrances are good, especially when they teach us the lessons we need to learn and remind us of our duties, both to ourselves and others. In Ester 9:27-28 the Jewish people initiated their second major remembrance (the first being Passover to commemorate the Exodus). The feast of Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people living in Persia from immanent extermination. It was a nexus point in Jewish history.
…the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.
So, today is September 11. It is the third anniversary of that fateful day and it too is a day of remembrance: a remembrance of bravery and heroism, of duty and sacrifice, when as a nation we all shared a single heartbeat and we all shed the same tears. It is important to remember the good and noble parts of that day and the days that followed. It is right and fitting to remember those who gave, to use Lincoln’s famous words, the last full measure of devotion. We will each take our own cues from the sacrifices of those days and one day we will look back on our subsequent actions. I pray that all we recall will be worthy of remembrance, will bring honor to the honor that propels us forward.
Dear Lord, we pray and we remember.