These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. – Joshua 4:7 (NIV)
Sept. 11, 2001, dawned clear and bright. Fall was in the air—in the coolness of the misty morning, in the hints of red, yellow and orange beginning to splash the hillsides, in the honking of geese winging overhead. America shut off the alarm clock, rolled out of bed, opened the curtains and let in the day. With coffee in hand, we set off to work.
By 9 a.m. our world had profoundly, irreversibly changed. By noon we’d gone from disbelief to numbing shock. By evening we vowed, “We will not forget!”
And we haven’t. One of the most tragic days in American history was also one of our finest. We looked in the mirror on that watershed day and said, “We are America.” And then we showed the world what makes America the greatest nation on earth.
America is a land of opportunity. We still open our arms to the tired, poor, huddling masses yearning to breathe free. To those homeless, tempest-tossed souls the lamp is still lifted beside the golden door. In every community modern day immigrants practice medicine, serve cultural cuisine, sell cars. Some are so desperate they sneak in. Don’t let anyone fool you. Opportunities abound in the home of the brave. But that isn’t what makes America great.
America is a land of prosperity. We have houses for our cars. We have closets jam-packed with clothes we grew out of or that we forgot we owned. We have winter clothes and summer clothes. We have footwear for every occasion. We have everyday dishes and good dishes. We have bank accounts, credit cards, investments, retirement plans. We have boats and swimming pools and RVs and motorcycles and four-wheelers and garages so full of stuff that we don’t have room for the car. We eat three square meals a day and then some. Diet and exercise businesses are booming. But our material wealth isn’t what makes America great.
America is the land of the free. We work and still have time to play. We race cars and horses and the clock. We are free to worship and work where we choose. We are free from want and, for the most part, from fear. We have homeless shelters and Homeland Security. We have soup kitchens and supersonic jets. We have policemen, firemen, EMTs, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the military protecting and aiding us. We can be whatever we want to be, go where we want to go. We can choose who, what, when, where, and how. We have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But freedom isn’t what makes America great.
What, then, makes America great?
Its generous heart, resilient spirit and can-do attitude. The Spirit of America born on the shores of Plymouth Rock nearly four centuries ago was found on Sept. 11, 2001, in the rubble that was the World Trade Center and in the wreckage of a plane that slammed into a Pennsylvania field.
On a memorial stone, those stalwart Pilgrims inscribed: “This spot marks the final resting place of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. In weariness and hunger and in cold, fighting the wilderness and burying their dead in common graves that the Indians should not know how many had perished, they here laid the foundations of a state for which all men for countless ages should have liberty to worship God in their own way. All ye who pass by and see this stone, remember, and dedicate yourselves anew to the resolution that you will not rest until this lofty ideal shall have been realized throughout the earth.”
We will not forget Sept. 11, 2001. We will not forget that for a moment evil prevailed. We will not forget how, by the grace of God, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, fighting that evil with goodness. We will not forget who and what we are. Let our memorial stones reflect the spirit of America.
God, bless America, land that I love. Amen.
From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.