There are events that are indelible in your mind. I remember reading the bulletin that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I also remember reading the bulletin that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. What I remember most was not the job as a newsman reading the news, but going home and looking at video of each event.
On 9/11 I sat for hours and watched the horror as each tower came down and surrealistic footage of people covered in ash running up streets in New York City. At one point I changed channels until I could find an old Ronald Reagan movie about a college class putting on a musical. It was just my way of escape. I couldn’t look at it anymore.
Alan Jackson looked into my psyche and wrote:
“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin’ against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?”
It was horror at its highest level. I started out in disbelief, followed that with anger at the people who would perpetrate such destruction, and finally cried. I thought about families sitting in their homes and offices, wondering about their loved ones who had done nothing more than gone to work on a perfectly clear New York September morning.
I watched as Andy Card whispered in President Bush’s ear as he read to an elementary school class and as people fell or jumped from the inferno. It was a collage of a wilting Americana. If there was any innocence left in the world in 2001, much of it was killed that day.
There are two things that most people do not know about me. One is that I am an introvert. I play the role of an extrovert and get away with it. But inside, I am someone who would just as soon stay in my world and let the rest of the universe pass me by. The other thing most people don’t know about me is that I am extremely insecure. While to some I exude confidence, that is not what is inside.
On Sept. 11, 2001, my insecurities boiled over. I think it was the first time I felt like this country had gone to the point of no return. I began to mourn for my children and my grandchildren and what the world will be like should it still be here when they became productive adults.
I felt like war had been declared and this country was not ready for it. During World War II, that same thing happened at Pearl Harbor, but Americans were different then. There was no government fail safe system. People adapted, picked themselves up by their bootstraps, and won a war against two world powers. I knew we were not made of the same fiber as those people, so I wondered on 9/11 how long this country would exist.
That train of thought has not left me. I still ponder Psalm 9:17 (NKJV) which reads – “The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God.” And I wonder if we have crossed that threshold. I wish I knew the answer. I don’t. I pray for America and our president every day. I still believe in the greatness of this nation and weep over the way some of my fellow countrymen have turned patriotism into a loathing of the one place on earth in which your dreams could come true.
The images of 9/11 will forever be with all of us. It is your choice what you do with those images that will determine whether we survive or not. It is your choice what you do with those images that willl determine whether we will wake up and take back our Constitutional rights, or morph into a socialistic failure. It’s not up to Washington. It’s not up to the Republicans or the Democrats. It is up to you and me.
Don’t forget the chorus that Alan Jackson wrote in his song – “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?”
“But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.