Forgetfulness is one of the major failings of the human mind. When America was attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, the images of those planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Shankesville field were seared into our minds.
We remember the unity of our leaders standing on the steps of the Capitol. We remember the prayer services that called us to pray for our nation and the families of those murdered and injured. We remember the heroism of those first responders that ran into flaming buildings that soon would collapse. Surely, we as a nation would never forget such an attack.
Several years after 9/11, I viewed the crater where the World Trade Center Towers once stood. I was deeply moved with family and friends when we visited the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. Pentagon offices were set on fire by a hijacked airplane killing those on the plane and some in the Pentagon.
A total of 184 people died at the Pentagon on 9/11 at 9:37 a.m. ranging in ages from three to 71 years old. American Flight 77 was the commandeered to penetrate the Pentagon. Our fellow American citizens died there.
Outside the Pentagon, there are 184 benches. Each bench is engraved with the name of an individual from the youngest to the oldest whose life was cut short. You can press a button or use your cell phone to select a brief, individual biography of a person who perished. This was especially moving as you were able to personalize the loss of those everyday citizens like us.
Inside the Pentagon at ground zero, there is now a chapel for reflection and medication. Gone is the carnage of bodies, concrete, and twisted steel. In the space where the innocent suffered and perished, a sense of reverence swells up in your heart. A similar sense of reverence overwhelms when visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Visit one or all three of the 9/11 Memorial Sites online. You can watch and listen to excellent virtual tours that put you at the scene and give you the stories of real people and families. Call 202-741-1004 and select a 12-or-24-minute presentation of the Pentagon Memorial.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I would ask you to look for a way you can stop and remember. Tell the story of 9/11 to children and grandchildren who have little or no remembrance of 9/11. Watch a documentary. Transform our loss as a nation into some positive action that will build up America. Never, never, never forget!
Joe D. Rushing is a local minister serving with Main Street Church of Christ and coordinates chaplains at Tri-Star NorthCrest.