Never forget

WARNING: There is a video included in this post that contains video footage of the news reports as they broadcast the attack on the second World Trade Center tower on the morning of September 11, 2001. If this is disturbing to you, please do not view the video.

No one will likely forget that early morning on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. How could we? It was the day that, for many Americans, changed the way we lived our lives. Unlike any other day before it, our nation came under attack by a faceless, nameless enemy who sought to do America great harm. And for a time, they succeeded.

I remember that morning. I had gotten up earlier than I normally did, and was sitting on my couch putting my shoes on when I turned on the TV. I wasn’t looking for the morning news at the time. I had actually turned the channel to ESPN to see if there was a status report on Ed McCaffrey’s broken leg from the Broncos/Giants game the Monday night before. So you can imagine my surprise when I turned on ESPN and saw a CNN report of what was transpiring in New York.

I quickly scanned through the channels on my TV to see if this was a big story. Indeed, every channel that was broadcasting was broadcasting the story as it unfolded. I remember seeing the first of the two big towers burning from the top and seeing the black smoke billowing from the top of that building. I remember thinking to myself “how does a fire start way up there?”. I also remember thinking “how are firefighters going to attack that fire?”. As I sat there, amazed at the spectacle before me, and hearing the news reports that there may have been a plane involved in this fire, I watched, stunned, as the second plane hit the second tower. I was without words, and without thought for a moment.

Then it hit me. The security that we as a nation had come to take for granted was being exploited right before our eyes. As the news reports continued to pour in it became evident that evil people managed to infiltrate our country, steal four airplanes and proceed to attack us with them. With an intent to kill, these terrorists successfully carried out the largest single concerted killing attack on American soil to date. We were, in a word, vulnerable.

The reality of the attacks become even more grave later in the morning as I drove to work under a clear blue sky. There was not a cloud above. Neither were there any airplanes. The FAA had grounded all flights in the country so the sky was quiet. I had never seen the sky like that. I live in the middle of the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose triangle so I see airplanes overhead every couple of minutes. Yet on this clear blue morning not even the sound of a prop plane could be heard. It was eerie.

As I got to work I went to my boss’s office because he had a TV. A lot of the people I worked with were in that office watching the news continue to unfold. We heard about a potential attack on the white house and another one on the pentagon. We began to learn of who the attackers might be and what their plan might have been. We learned that all of the planes involved in the attack that day were east coast to west coast non stop flights which meant they were completely full of fuel when they left New York. It also meant that a good number of passengers on those flights were from California.

We learned that a plane had crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania, in the middle of a field. We later learned that it ended up there because some brave men and women would not settle for being taken captive and fought like hell for their lives. Later in the day we watched as the towers fell with people still in them. Workers, firefighters, police officers, good Samaritans… thousands of lives were lost in an instant when those towers collapsed.

We also learned later that there were people jumping from hundreds of feet up to avoid the raging and intense heat of the rocket fuel burning them up. We began to see the damage wrought by the attacks of a handful of evil cowards that sought to do us harm as a nation. But we learned something of supreme importance that day as well.

We learned that we are a country of red-blooded, ass-kicking, proud and strong Americans and don’t take to getting punched in the face that easy. The “great American rally” started that day and brought us closer as a country than we had ever been. Religious lines were shattered, political lines erased, socioeconomic differences set aside. We came together starting that day for the common cause of showing the world that we are stronger than the attackers and more resilient that they thought.

I will never forget that day. I will never forget the fear I felt, for an instance, for my children and the world they would eventually grow up to inherit. I will never forget the sense of vulnerability I felt that morning. I will never forget seeing the men and women who knew they were going to die run into those buildings to save just one more person. I will never forget the people on the ground helping hurting, crying and dying people. I will never forget.

And I will never forget how our country has responded to the attacks. I will never forget the sense of pride I had as an American as people dug deep to raise money for families affected by the attacks. I will never forget the outpouring of people attending churches in the months after the attacks. I will never forget the mass movement by young men and women to join our armed forces for the purposes of fighting this cowardly, faceless enemy. I will never forget the sense of urgency our country felt in living life to the fullest after the attacks. I will never forget what it was like being an American after those attacks.

So today I would ask that you keep the surviving family members of those lost in the attacks in your prayers. Remember the families, remember the losses, remember the rally and remember our country. I will remember that day forever. I will never forget.

Happy Memorial Day

The barbecues are probably hot and the meat is probably marinading as the day pushes forward into the afternoon and evening. The celebration and revelry will be abundant today for sure. But as we fellowship around the fire, sipping wine and scarfing down the grilled meat, it might be a good idea to reflect on why we have today off of work and why we are enjoying this time with our friends and family.

To all families and people who have lost loved ones on the battlefield, today my thoughts and prayers go out to you. But even though today is a day set aside to remember those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in war it is my belief that we should not wait an entire year to remember our heroes.

For families who have lost loved ones there isn’t a day that goes by in which they don’t think about that person. And while the pain of loss, and the memory of loved ones lost, does diminish over time remembering our loved ones is important. So today think about those who have laid down their lives in the service of their countries and remember those they have left behind. And throughout the year try to keep in mind that for some families memorial day is every day.

Every day men and women around the world offer their lives in service to the United States and her allies. Every day they should be remembered.

Happy President’s Day

Today is President’s Day in the United States, a day in which we bloody Americans celebrate the king pin of democracy in our land, the President of the United States. The reality of this day, however, is that it is really a celebration of George Washington’s birthday.

I really haven’t studied President Washington as much as I should have but there are a few things about the man that I find fascinating and totally worthy of having a day all to himself for. He was the typical American trying to live the typical American dream and he painted an example of how all men should live when it comes to defending your place, taking care of business and being selfless. I will say that I am not fond of everything about him, but for the most part, if I had to go to war, I would love to server under his leadership.

Much of what I based my opinion is taken from the stories about him as a young man, a soldier, a warrior, a politician, a businessman and a land owner. He was involved in all of these things from a very young age and stayed that way until he died after living a very long and rewarding life.

One look at the life of George Washington, though brief, outlines some of the more significant characteristics and experiences he had. He was homeschooled, he took up surveying at an early age (which ultimately led to him knowing the terrain upon which he fought way better than his adversaries), he took an interest in politics and the happenings of the day and he became involved in military service of a very young United States (actually, the US hadn’t really become the US when Washington was at his younger age).

He was a cunning warrior on the battlefield but he lost a significant number of battles in which he fought. Yet he fought still and won the most meaningful battles when it counted. He was selfless in politics and service. He was against partisanship. He was for his country and its people.

Looking on the President that was George Washington I can’t help but want for all presidents to find their similarities to President Washington and tap into that when serving.

Regardless, today celebrates the birth of our country’s first president and, in some way, all presidents since then. To all of our surviving presidents I say thank you for your service and patriotism. Though was may disagree with much of your service or many of you decisions, you still have had a job that few really want to take on. You deserve this day. Enjoy it.

I wonder

Today was an historic date for the United States of America. Today, the people of this country packed more people into the capital mall than ever before. It was history in the making.

For those that have ever followed any of my rants here it would come as no surprise that I was not, and still am not, excited about President Barack Obama. I cannot get behind this whole “history being made” trip associated with today. We elected a man to be our next president. We did not elect a messiah, a savior or God.

He is just a man. I know that he is black. Well, part black. And that his election to president is a momentous occasion because of the racial implications surrounding that. And I am glad that the color lines have been shattered by his election. Cool. Can we move on from that now? I just wonder.

I wonder why it is that Obama’s half-blackness even has anything to do with today. Granted, it was historic that we as a country elected a man of color in November. The fact that he was of minority decent played really no role in the decision made by the majority of people in the United States. At least I would like to think that. Voting, or not voting, for someone because that someone is of a particular gender, ethnicity, age or religious belief seems somewhat prejudicial to me. And I want to give the benefit of the doubt to our country that we elected this man because of the promises he made to us during his campaign. But I wonder.

[FOR THE RECORD: I did not vote for Obama. When I say we I mean we as a country. I am part of this country and am part of the we, even if I did participate in the electing of Barack Obama as president.]

Perhaps I just don’t understand the hysteria surrounding today. Or perhaps the real celebration is not in the election of the man but his actual internment into the house. Maybe the real celebration is that George W. Bush is out of office. Regardless, I wish we could see that Obama is just a man. Half-blackness and popularity not withstanding, he is just a man.

Please do not take my words to mean that I am a racist, against minorities in office or in some way against the thought of someone of color being president. That is not the case. I myself stem from a minority heritage, a heritage fraught with struggle and hardship. It was nothing like the injustices suffered by our black brothers and sisters, but it was enough so that looking back on history I am able to see that minorities in America have always had a hard time being accepted. Skin color and ethnic heritage have never been an issue for me and never will be.

No, I think my issue with President Obama is the platform that he runs upon and the unadulterated status as hero and savior he has not only managed to obtain but has done nothing to quiet down. He is a man. Not a super man. Just a man. He won the presidency on a fairly narrow margin (I believe it was 53% to 46%) and has left the better part of the country wondering what the hell is going to happen if he implements even half of the things he promised he would in his campaign. If he held true the ideals of morality and humility that many of the leaders of the civil rights movement professed, wouldn’t you think he would have already made it clear that he is just another guy doing a job that the people asked him to do? I just wonder.

And in that same vein, wouldn’t a man that seeks unity among the people of the country he is now leading seek first to squash the over-emphasis of those that are making more of him being black than anything else? We should not be making President Obama our first black president. We should be making him our next president. Period. Is he using this time as a means to bring the people of the United States together? I just wonder.

I am not worried about his holding the highest political office in the land. Nor am I in fear of what can happen if the ideas he presented during his campaign and throughout his transition planning time are ever brought to fruition. But I am concerned with the level that the most vocal and outspoken people of the country have elevated him to. Yes, he is a good looking man. Yes, he is half-black. Yes, he is tall. Yes, his wife know how to dress the part. Yes, he has great speech writers. Yes, he smokes. Yes, he uses the internet. Yes, he knows how to hide his actual place of birth. Yes, he knows how to dodge hard questions. Does any of that make him a great leader? I just wonder.

I suppose all we can do is pray for him, his administration and his decisions. Lord knows he will have a lot of deciding to do. I can only pray that he heeds to advice of solid counsel and that he makes decisions that cover the multitude of the country in a way that does not alienate or persecute those that are not covered by his decisions.

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2

After all is said and done, though, he is still my president. He is still my leader. And he still deserves my prayer. More than anything else, he will be inheriting a country that is in terrible disarray, one that has lost a lot of trust in our leadership and has lost even more trust in the Republican party. We are hurt and hurting. We are broken. We are battered. And we need, more than anything, a strong leader that we can rally around not because of his skin color or political party but because of his character, his strength and his wisdom.

Can we as a country do that? Can we bring ourselves to set aside his ethnicity, his political party, his political beliefs so we can focus on his ability? I just wonder.

In honor of Dr. King – Marching ahead in difficult times

Few men have had the ability to capture the attention of the nation like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His natural ability to speak to men of all races and religions in a way that was relevant to the moment still has not been matched to this day. He used peace, knowledge, unity and the spoken word to reach out to and influence millions of people in the 50’s and 60’s.

He led the struggle for equality and freedom for black men and women with dignity, grace, strength and courage and he did it in a peaceful way. He embodied the essence of manliness, leadership, Christianity and selflessness throughout his time fighting against racial injustice. He was what all men should aspire to be.

In honor of Dr. King’s birthday I felt it appropriate to offer up two of the most memorable speeches he gave. The first, which is arguably my favorite of his speeches, was given the night before he was assassinated. You can tell by the words he spoke and the look on his face that he knew something was going to be going down soon. He knew that his life was in danger. Yet he did what he did. He did not waiver, he did not cower. He led. Up until his death he led.

I pray that all men would be able to have the fortitude and courage that Dr. King exudes in this clip. The text of the speech follows the video:

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountain top. And I don’t mind.

Like anybody I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.

And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promise land.

I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promise land.

So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The next speech is possibly the most famous of speeches he ever gave. One that has been quoted in pieces since the day it was given, August 28, 1963, in Washington DC. Oddly, this speech is about 15 minutes long and contains some of the most challenging and poignant statements I have ever heard from anyone, let alone a man leading a large group of people in a fight for racial equality. The words he spoke, the challenges he offered up, would still serve as a challenge today for many that would fight a fight of injustice.

Again, the text of the speech follows the video:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not a black man. I am a man of color, but not in the traditional sense of a minority that has been wronged because of my heritage. However, I can still say thank you to a man that defined the premier method of fighting the good fight. Because of Dr. King many minorities has been afforded the right and freedom of equality. Our country owes a great debt to Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

Israel, Hama and Gaza – oh my!

I have been wanting to write this for a few days now and for various reasons have not been able to. Now I am, so here it comes.

I have been bombarded with news of protests, demands, marches and talk over the last few weeks. A lot had to do with the recent killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer on New Years. But just as much has had to do with the escalation of violence in the middle. That violence is the military push by Israel into Gaza against the terrorist Hamas organization.

A bulk of the chatter surrounding these protests, demands and the what not has centered on Israel and how inhumane and out of place people believe their military advances to be. To that I cannot help but wonder how anyone sees that? Hamas has been bombing Israel for entirely too long (more than once is entirely too long in my opinion) and Israel has shown great restraint in asking, peacefully and diplomatically, for Hamas to stop that crap. Hamas chose not to heed Israeli requests and Israel was put into a position to defend itself.

Why would anyone tell a country not to defend itself? Yes, I know that advancing on Gaza seems like an attack against Palestine. But is there some chance that Palestine has been in concert with Hamas? News reports wouls suggest that. And not only has Hamas established themselves in Gaza, they have also continued to barage of bombings on Israel throughout the Israeli advancement. Country after country, person after person, voice after voice is calling upon Israel to stop the violence, yet it seems as though no one is holding Hamas or Palestine responsible for what has taken place. Except Israel. They are holding Hamas and Palestine responsible. Yet no one sees the Israeli side of it.

Why would a country that has been attacked in military fashion to want to open a can of whoop ass on the folks doing the attacking? Wouldn’t you? If someone was throwing rocks at you would you not defend yourself from that until the throwing stopped? That is what Israel is doing. Yet people are holding Israel in contempt for their defending of their country.

I am not usually one to take sides in foreign affairs. Seriously, that is something that, to be honest, I feel is best settled by those in the heat of it. But as my airwaves are being held hostage by folks right here in the Bay Area marching in protest and placing demands on the US state department to get involved in favor of Gaza, I can’t help but look closer at this. And I gotta say, unless I am not seeing the entirety of this situation (which there is a likelihood of) then I cannot see how Israel should be told to stop attempting to squash the attacks being levied upon them.

Am I wrong for thinking this way?

Happy Veteran’s Day

Today is a day earmarked for celebration of those that have served our country as veterans of war and members of our armed forces. This covers men and women from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and reserve units of each of these branches of the military. I pray that today you would be blessed, covered, protected and welcomed without contempt wherever you set your feet.

I cannot even begin to imagine what serving our country in the military is like. My father was a soldier in the US Army. He fought bravely in the Korean war. He saw things, as a 17 year old kid himself, that he would never tell his kids about. He was prepared to give his life for the men he served with and the country he lived for.

To all veterans and service members, I salute you. You have given of yourself to ensure the American way of life both at home and abroad. He continue to place yourself in harms way for all Americans and daily you offer yourself as a sacrifice to this country and to the people who live in it, though some may not appreciate you. You are true patriots, true Americans and I am honored to be able to thank you in an open, public environment, the right of which was given me because of the sacrifice of veterans from long ago.

Praise God for you and for all members of the US armed forces. A few of the men that I know that have served their country deserve a public shout:

  • David Gonzalez
  • Leo Millet
  • Salvador Casellon
  • Claude Aranedas
  • Thomas Hernandez
  • Raymond Huber
  • Danny Rose

Thanks guys for all that you have done.

May the 4th be with you

Short and sweet, so as to keep my time with my family at a maximum…

Happy 4th of July America!

Celebrate the holiday safely, enjoy any time off you have and cherish the freedoms we, as Americans, are entitled to everyday.

Happy Independence Day

Remembering those that paid the ultimate price

Today marks a very special day to the United States of America. Today is the day we remember and honor those men and women that gave their lives in the service and protection of our great country.

Of course when the country is at war it becomes all too easy to look past the fact that every year men and women die serving our country. Some die in battle. Some die in transport. Some die in training. But the sad fact is that lives are lost every year in the service of our country.

I personally stand to honor all men and women that have given of themselves for my freedoms and liberties. It is not easy putting your life in danger. It is especially unfathomable to put your life on the line for folks that you do not know, like people all over the country that depend on our armed forces to maintain our freedoms (no folks, congress, voting and our legal system do NOT do this for us) or people in other countries that have been set free by our military activities on their soil. We should get this straight right here and now: American soldiers are heros – plain and simple.

They do things that most normal people would not even imagine doing. They face risks and dangers that we will never ever have to face. They stand in the face of certain death and stare it down so that fellow Americans can live to tell their stories. Our soldiers kick butt and take names.

So today try to spend a moment or two thinking about the liberties and freedoms you get to experience daily. Think of the all the things you get to do today that other folks in other countries don’t get to do because of where they live. And as you consider these things, try, for a second, to think of a man or woman laying in the field of battle, not breathing, not fighting anymore, not moving but still serving.

We are free to live because others fought for it. I thank those that have kept me free. God bless you.

Remembering

Do you remember that day? The day our country’s perception of national security, public safety, heroism and sacrifice changed forever? Do you remember?

I am not one to dwell on the past and it is not my intention to do so here. I am one, however, that likes to remember those moments that have become an everlasting moment etched into the minds of those that experienced it. The September 11, 2001 terrorist hijackings and subsequent attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon (as well as the crash of flight 93 in Pennsylvania) left America scarred and hurting. It made a lot of people afraid, even more people concerned for their own souls and almost every American angrier than hell that anyone would ever conceive such a notion as to carry out such a deliberate and coordinated plan of attack on a predominantly civilian group of people. It was a dark day in the United States on that September 11. Maybe the darkest of days.

The things I remember most about that morning was how shocked I was to see what was happening. I had just gotten out of the shower and had sat down on the couch to put my socks and shoes on. There is nothing memorable about that… I do it almost everyday. But as I sat down and turned on ESPN to catch highlights of the Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants from the night before I was taken to another place. Every channel had CNN’s coverage of a large fire burning at the top of the World Trade Center North Tower. The reporter was stating that there had been talks of an airplane accident or perhaps some form of explosion at the tower. At the time, about 5:58 AM in California, it was still unknown as to what was going on. A few minutes later, after fumbling through several channels on the TV only to find CNN on all of them, I realized this was a bigger story than a burning building in New York.

Then I saw it. The second plane blasted its way into the South face of the World Trade Center South Tower. I stopped dead in my tracks. Did I really just see what I thought I saw? Did a huge jet airplane really crash into the World Trade Center, at an angle, low on the face of the building taking out a huge section of the building’s floors and a major support section of the South corner? I was horrified. I was saddened. I was shocked.

I sat still on the couch watching the story unfold. Reports started coming in of firefighters being dispatched. More reports came in. There was a report that the Pentagon had been bombed. Another report said the White House had been attacked. The US Air Force was reported to have been deployed to the air space above Washington DC and New York with attack orders to bring down any suspect aircraft. The FAA grounded all flights immediately.

I watched the news until I had to leave for work. In my boss’s office there was a TV on which we watched more of the story unfold. We learned that this was more than likely a terrorist attack. We learned that there were people trapped in the upper floors of the towers and that rescue efforts were being stymied by heat and smoke. Images were being broadcast of people waving their hands outside of their windows from the floors above the crash sites as the smoke got heavier and heavier. Then it happened. The South Tower collapsed. I remember thinking about how many people were still in that building and how many rescue personnel must have been in that building, running up stairs to get to the victims on the higher floors. And I remember thinking that if this tower has just come down there is a strong likelihood that other one will. And it did.

There are really no words to describe how I felt that morning as I watched, helplessly, from the other side of the nation. Part of me wanted to reach out and start kicking some terrorist butt. Part of me wanted to reach out to the children that had just been orphaned. Part of me wanted to reach out to the families of the rescue teams that surely lost loved ones just a few minutes earlier. I remember too, going outside, and not seeing a single airplane in the sky. And I remember thinking that the face of American security will be changing from that point on.

I went home that day and hugged my wife and my kids stronger and longer that I had ever done. Sometimes I am saddened at the thought that because of this tragedy I felt the need to be closer to my family when I should be feeling that need daily. And I began to consider how much I have taken for granted in my life, and how the poor men, women and children that lost their lives that day would never be able to, face to face, reconcile what was happening in their lives that morning.

The rest of the evening was spent with my wife and children talking about what had happened, how they felt and what we could learn from it. We also prayed as a family. We prayed for the families of those directly affected by the tragedy, the rescue teams that would not leave the site no matter what, the news media and reporting staff, our President George W. Bush, our military personnel and everyone else that was affected or could be affected by the incident. Then we prayed for the terrorists. I know that may sound weird, but the Bible tells us to do this. We also prayed for justice to be swift and effective, and we prayed that those involved in the planning, plotting and carrying out of the plans be captured.

I know much of what we prayed for has yet to materialize. But I would encourage you, on this day of remembrance, as you remember where you were the day America was terrorized, that you pray for these things as well. There are still people responsible for these attacks at large. They need to be brought to justice. There are still people hurting from these attacks. They need to be healed. We all need to be healed. Please, in your prayers, remember this day, those who were most greatly affected by it, those that still hold that day very close to heart.