It’s said that truth is always larger than life. I firmly believe this to be true! In January of 2005 my wife Terri and I were invited to the Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC and wanting to arrive in time to enjoy all the nuances of that historical city, we left a day early and took our time driving. We stayed in the town of Somerset, Pennsylvania and while checking into our hotel, I asked the clerk if the crash site of United Airlines flight 93 was nearby. He quickly produced a sheet of paper with driving instructions and a minute or so later Terri and I were on the short 9-mile drive to where on September the 11th ,2001 a group of ordinary Americans rose up and stood their ground, sacrificing their own lives and in turn, saving the lives of probably hundreds of their fellow Americans in Washington DC.
Driving up to the site I can remember thinking, this is just an ordinary field, in an ordinary community not unlike where I live myself. The makeshift memorial which was temporarily set up until a fitting one can be constructed was cold and seemed lonely until we began to walk towards the large chain link fence containing thousands of tiny personal memorials from visitors expressing their pride and gratitude to those brave men & women who stood for freedom on that fateful day. The plaques, the flags, and the crosses added to the emotion as we looked out over the empty field where in the distance stood a solitary American flag, the symbol of our freedom and the ultimate sacrifice of so many brave men & women that day in the air over a remote Pennsylvania field. Captain James Dahl, First Officer Leroy Homer, the five flight attendants and courageous men like Todd Beamer all memorialized at the site instantly became heroes to me.
It was September of the year 1814 and Francis Scott Key began to catch a glimpse of the flag over Fort McHenry and was inspired to pen the words that we today embrace as our National Anthem. We all know the first verse but may never forget what the fourth verse reminds us, “O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand, Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation; Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust! And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” Generations that follow are counting on us to be the best of stewards of the freedom that has been
lovingly handed to us! May this always be our motto and may God continue to Bless America!
As I stood in that cold barren field in Pennsylvania looking at the memorials, remembering the sacrifice that others might live, I leave forever changed.
I have since been back to the site and the new memorial twice…each time deeply saddened by the loss of great Americans while at the same time inspired beyond measure by their heroism and bravery in the face of certain death. I often think of the Apostle Paul’s words from his letter to the church at Phillipi, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” When I consider the incredible testimony that Paul left us, sacrificing his desire for that of Christ’s, sacrificing his will for the will of Christ I am truly challenged in my heart.
What am I sacrificing? What am I truly laboring for? What will people remember of me when one day they file past a granite memorial in a graveyard with my name on it? Let me tell you what I think and what I desire. I think that all that will really matter when I am gone is what I have done for Christ. What I desire in my own life is that I live a life that is more surrendered than ever before, bringing Glory and honor to the Lord in all that I say and do.
Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer, during an interview a few years after 9/11, was asked by the host “what is the most important thing she can tell her children about their father?” She replied without hesitation, “The most important thing I can tell them is that we can see him again.” Not just that he was a good father, which he was that; not that he was a brave man, and he was that, but that they have the promise of seeing him again. Because of a right relationship with Jesus Christ, he was ready to go. What are you leaving behind? What treasures will your family be left with to sift through? I want to leave my family more than just things. I want to leave them the treasure of knowing that I knew Jesus! There’s no time to waste, so in the words of Todd Beamer… Let’s Roll!
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper