I have some amazing memories of my childhood. As a swimmer, many of those memories revolve around the swimming pool, meets, my teammates or my family headed to practice or meets. My brother and I swam together, and my mom carted us all around the southeast. She would run laps in the parking lot while we practiced, and make special memories of meals, snacks, sewing patches on warm-up jackets, and rubbing Icy Hot on our sore shoulders. Dad would stand on diving boards in the summer, and balconies in the winter, videotaping us with camcorders that were the size of a bazooka launcher hoisted on his shoulder. We have hours of swims recorded for posterity.
Recording things for posterity is something that the people of God did in the Old Testament by building altars and monuments to the Lord in order to remember times when He impacted His people in a big way. Noah built an altar to the Lord when he and his family finally disembarked the ark. I’m sure Noah had some mixed feelings about all that transpired with the ark – it took him at least 120 years to build, all the while hearing the jeers of his neighbor and family, then all of humanity and every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out except what God had allowed on the boat. Then they were on that boat for about a YEAR. Talk about cabin fever! When they finally were allowed off the boat, there wasn’t a house ready for occupancy, no garden already planted, and the animals they used to sacrifice and eat had been on the boat with them for that whole year (Genesis 8). Sometimes, when we recognize the bigness of God and the Sovereignty of who He is and what His plans are, it isn’t only joy that we feel. We are simply trusting what Romans 5:8 says: “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” The focal word here is HIS purpose. I don’t pretend to understand what that is. As a matter of fact, there are LOTS that I have questions about. Some of the big things I have questions about are the holocaust, and 9/11.
Regarding both of these tragic things, yes, there have been stories of good coming from each. But there is/was LOTS of hurt and pain, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual that happened in association. Some are yet unresolved. There are several memorials to the holocaust victims: one in Berlin, Washington, DC, and even 3 in the metro Atlanta area.
The 20th anniversary of 9/11 just passed. There are some 500 recorded memorials to that tragic day. The largest 9/11 memorial located in New York City, is a somber remembrance of the 2,977 victims killed in New York, including 344 firefighters, 60 police officers, and 8 EMTs/paramedics. The memorials for the 184 victims killed at the Pentagon on that day are located adjacent to the Pentagon and another at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In Somerset County, Pennsylvania stands the 9/11 memorial for the 40 victims of United flight 93 that, due to civilians, crashed in a rural area sparing what was likely going to be an iconic spot in Washington, DC.
These memorials are built so that we remember. God says through Moses in Joshua 4 that memorials are so that when our children ask what they mean, we can tell them. As a believer, we can use memorials to teach future generations about the best and worst of humanity. As we remember, we can
- reflect on what our part is to make sure to build on the triumphs
- strive to study what went wrong so that we do not repeat the failures
- mourn those who were victims of the historic markers.
In tragedy, there are always heroes. Some live to tell about it, some give all. So many such occurrences make no sense. I am so grateful for a God who understands, who wastes NOTHING, and who will reveal His purpose to all of us when we meet at His throne (Romans 14:10, 2 Cor 5:10 and Revelation 11:18).
In memory of those who died, lost loved ones, and were affected by the events of 9/11.