I was in San Antonio. It was a bright, clear morning and I was preparing to leave for the Baptist University of the Americas and a full day of work that would go into the evening hours. It was Sept. 11, 2001. The time was 7:46 a.m. The images are seared into my memory. I watched the television in disbelief, thinking that something like this could never happen in the United States of America.
But it did. The world changed that day and has never been the same. A lot of us lost our innocence on 9/11. We naively thought things like that happened somewhere else not on American soil. But there it was, right in our living rooms for all to see. Fear was our first emotion. Resolve soon followed.
This September 11 marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, or what we now remember as 9/11. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years. And it’s hard to believe the world has changed so much in 20 years. 2,996. That’s how many died that day. More than 7,000 have died in the War on Terror since 2001. It wasn’t just that the world changed on 9/11. My world changed. Your world changed.
Those of us who remember Sept. 11, 2001, thought we had lived through the greatest crisis of our generation, and for many, it was. But then, March of 2020 brought with it a global pandemic that is once again changing my world and your world. Again, we thought, “This could never happen in the United Stated.” We thought we were immune to viruses and pandemics.
Like 2001, our response was first fear, followed by resolve. And like 2001, we are fighting an unseen enemy. To be sure, we’ve had victories, like the development of safe and effective vaccines. We’ve had moments when we could see the end, when victory over the virus was close, only to be find ourselves back in a fight for life and death against COVID-19.
For months, we’ve been told that our greatest weapons in this fight against the pandemic are the vaccines. On Aug. 23, Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are about to receive full approval as well. Pfizer presented 360,000 pages of evidence and experts say that never in the history of the FDA has so much evidence – both in the lab and in real life – been presented to judge a shot’s safety.
If you’ve hesitated getting your vaccine because you are worried about the safety of the vaccines, you now have your answer. Please, get vaccinated. It’s safe.
As we struggle through these difficult and tiresome days of the pandemic, I’m reminded of the resolve with which we met our fears following 9/11. We’ve been fighting the War on Terror for 20 years. The pandemic has been attacking us for 18 months. With resolve and perseverance, we can get through this together. We can overcome our fears and the feelings that seem to be closing in on us.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in ancient Rome who were surrounded by all sorts of troubles, he assured them that “we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. And hope does not disappoint.”
I don’t know about you, but I can live triumphantly with those words.
Just as the events 20 years ago bound us together in hope, so the current crisis should bind us together. Together, we can persevere, and together, we have hope.