I just asked the other people in the office today what the name of today is, “It’s the anniversary of 9/11” yes. yes it is. But I remember G.W. Bush declaring it Patriot’s Day or Patriotic Day. It’s Patriot Day, we googled it. Patriot Day sounded wrong to me because it sounded like a day in which we celebrate a football team (surprising that my Maryland office mates didn’t remember the name because they grew up in Boston and Jersey).
Anyway, last night I watched the President of these United States give an address, in my humble opinion, trying to convince the American people to favor strikes against Syria. I am sick over this issue, I have been following it for years and I am worried for those in Syria not able to escape. I pray for peace, but I agree something has to be done, but I will never be able to say war is the answer.
All the talk of war last night, on the eve of “Patriot Day” not only angered me, but also brought me back to a place 11 and 12 years ago when this country was on the brink of war. As a nation we walked around in a fog for months, if not a years. More and more information followed in the days, weeks, and months. Then war was declared, then first responder’s health issues, and money for the families was being scammed. Then, the death tolls from the wars (on the US side, God knows how many Iraqi and Afghani people were killed) not only met the death toll of the people in the WTC, Pentagon and Flight 93, but it far surpassed it.
We are still at war, with these countries, and with ourselves.
Yet, today I walked my daughter to school, went for a run and drove to work, like any other day. And normally I would not even think about these mundane tasks but today it seems like a special privilege. In 2001, hours after the planes hit I saw my friend and former roommate, it was her birthday and the first thing she said to me was “don’t tell anybody”. September 11 is also my grandparent’s anniversary. It is just another day, but really it never will be again.
We will always remember where we were the moment the planes hit, the week of flights canceled and the horror of that day. But I do believe that the best way we can honor those people is by living a normal life, for that is the greatest privilege that they lost. Waking up in the morning, walking their kids to school, going for a run. This is how we honor.
And so I ask myself, on this day of all days how do I want our country to respond to the prospect of another war? How can we care for 2 million refugees (1 million of whom are children)? How can we, as their neighbors, as their brothers and sisters help and protect them without going to war and reigning destruction down on their homeland?
I look to the words of 2 Kings 6:20-23 and the great prophet Elisha:
“As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, ‘O Lord, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.’ The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. 21When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, ‘Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?’ 22He answered, ‘No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.’ 23So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.
Although in the midst of war, the response is not to kill, but to extend mercy and kindness. For what does the Lord require of us but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. May I remember this day and everyday.