You can tell an event is of historical importance if you know exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. Nov. 22, 1963, I was in Mrs. Isom's fourth grade at Crichlow Elementary School in Murfreesboro. Principal Leslie Underwood came over the intercom at one o'clock on a Friday afternoon to announce, "President John F. Kennedy has been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas."
On July 29, 2001 I was preaching at White House on a Sunday evening. I finished my sermon and the service concluded. Soon after, I received a phone call that my father Elvis Rushing had passed away at the old Rutherford County Hospital.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 I left a Tuesday morning Bible Study at Springfield Drugs with John Hagan and Brad VanVleet. It was about 8 o'clock when I heard the breaking news that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
I was already headed over to drink a cup of coffee with Joe King at King Electric. I shared the bad news with him and secretary, Janice Stagner. We turned on the TV about the time the second plane hit the second tower of the World Center Center. Other reports came in of a plane crashing in Shanksville, Penn. and the Pentagon being hit.
It was almost like the country stood still that day as we watched fellow Americans jump out of the Trade Center Towers. The pictures of the fire and smoke are forever etched on our minds. Mental pictures were painted as we imagined what suffering these fellow human beings endured.
There were the images of emergency personnel running into burning buildings to rescue people. Stories of heroes banding together to overcome the terrorists began to circulate. What targets were thwarted that may have been aimed at the White House or Capitol?
Millions of prayers went up before God that day. Partisan politics vanished for a time as members of Congress stood on the Capital steps to pray and sing, "God Bless America." Prayer meetings broke out in churches, homes, offices and restaurants across the land. Most of nations of the world bowed their collective knee and prayed for us.
Volunteers throughout the land headed to New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania to begin the process of digging through the rubble, recovering the dead, serving the injured and comfort the grieving.
The terrorists and their sympathizers rejoiced that day at the death blow they struck to America's heel. The soul of America woke up that day for a time. From the ashes an overcoming spirit rose that would strike a death blow to head of our enemies. It is hard to believe that was 18 years ago. A new generation has been born that does not remember where they were that day when our freedom and way of life was attacked.
Take time on Sept.11 to call your children and grandchildren aside and tell them your memories of that day and the weeks that followed. Spend some time praying for the families that still bear the scars of this attack. Thank God for helping us through this crisis and giving us the strength to endure. Be prayerful and vigilant, what has happened before can happen again if we put our heads in the sand.
Never take life and your loved ones for granted. Both can be gone in a moment in the blink of an eye. How many people failed to show their love or say, "I love you" when they left their homes on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 where 2,997 souls never came home again.
We owe a debt of gratitude to all those first responders and cleanup personnel who came to the aide of their neighbors - 20,874 of those who spent time at Ground Zero sites; who lost their health due to the hazardous conditions. Their death toll due to these complications continues to rise. As you have opportunity visit the three memorials, and give thanks for the sacrifices of others and the overcoming spirit of freedom that still survives.
Joe D. Rushing is retired preaching minister for Main St. Church of Christ. He stays busy with the church and being a chaplain for NorthCrest and Comfort Care Hospice.