“From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home, sweet home!
God bless America, my home, sweet home!”
— Irving Berlin, God Bless America
Not many people remember where their first birthday was, when they first fell in love, or what their first dream was. But everyone who was alive or old enough to remember can recall where they were and what they did on September 11, 2001. Almost every person who is able to recall that day also remembers when they first saw the commercial plane hitting the South World Trade Tower.
It is a day that America will never forget, nor should it ever be forgotten. 9/11 was a tragic day, the likes of which could only be compared to Pearl Harbor, but unlike the latter, 9/11 was not an organized military attack from a foreign power; it was an act of radical terrorism. Three thousand people died from the attack on the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, and the attack that was attempted on Flight 93 (many believe it was headed for the Capitol building or the White House).
Many people remember the horrors of that day, but like most tragedies, those same people who could recollect many events on that day will often times forget the other things surrounding 9/11. You will see the re-runs of the attacks and the covers of the newspapers and magazines. You will see the memorable photos of the brave firemen and police officers, as well as the speeches made by President Bush. But there were certain events that many people fail to remember.
9/11 was not just a day of national mourning, but also a day of national prayer. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to churches and other places of worship all over the country to pray for the nation of America as one people. Only a few people will remember or even know about this, but after the end of the Congress’ press conference, a few representatives and senators began an impromptu performance of God Bless America. No one saw it coming; for those who remember that moment, it was truly tear-jerking, and it was one of the few moments in American history where Republicans and Democrats would unite.
How could people forget such things? Because people don’t want to remember why they flocked to churches. When I have conversations with people on the subject of 9/11, often times I hear remarks such as “I can’t believe we didn’t stop those attacks!” or “It had to be an inside job!” People still struggle with the fact that America, considered to be the nation that no army could attack, was hit with attacks on civilians by an army with no allegiance to anything but Muslim Jihad groups. America was not invincible on that day. American pride and nationalism were completely hurt.
People also forget the other events because it represents a moment in United States history when people were actually united under God. CNN would play a service in which members of Congress and the generals would sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God, churches would be completely full, and ratings for Christian television were higher than ever. People sincerely believed that America needed God and that America needed to take down its pride. The American people had a moment where God became necessary and national pride was not an option. Sadly, that didn’t last, and the media still tries to forget that the American people ever felt that to this day.
The nation of America was completely transformed, if only for a few days, by a single tragedy. It took something like 9/11 to just momentarily consider the fact that maybe America is not self-sufficient and possibly has turned its back on God. After 9/11, America abandoned its pragmatic philosophy for a gracious religious thought that would cause a heart to believe there was a chance for God’s message, the gospel, to change things.
I hope that this will return, but rather than this being done through a tragedy, I hope that it’ll be done through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is possible that one day America will see another revival to the degree that we saw briefly after 9/11. That kind of thought, at least I think, isn’t too far-fetched. For the sake of the gospel, God has done some pretty incredible things.
May God remind America of the lessons we should take away from that horrible attack, and may remembering the events stir our hearts to be thankful that our God is always there, even in the worst of times. His deeds are good, His judgment is right, and His Kingdom is forever.
Soli Deo Gloria.