I was 54 years old. I had served my country in the military for 24 years. In shock, and with eyes glued to the television all day, I became very angry when learning it was a terrorist attack. The worst blow to our nation in my lifetime left me craving revenge and wondering how we had let this happen. In a few hours, with a semblance of composure, my mind began to shift from the tragic death of almost 3,000 people to what the American response would be. I began to see a potential silver lining to all the bloodshed. This could set our country on a pursuit of renewed patriotism. It could restore the national unity that had been waning. It could turn American hearts back to God.
For over 30 years, America had been in decline morally and spiritually. Family values were being set aside and divorces were becoming as common as marriages. Homosexual activity was becoming shameless and even popular with the establishment of a gay pride month of parades and celebrations. Abortions had become rampant with the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade. American colleges were trending toward cultural liberalism with some actually advocating socialism. America was in dire need of revival and restoration. It was against this backdrop that 19 foreign men commandeered four commercial airliners and carried out the unthinkable orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
For some months following, America demonstrated a solidarity that it hadn’t experienced in decades. Almost all the socialist and liberal thinkers were quieted. Church attendance was at an all-time high. Urges for prayer were heard from public places. Patriotism was more widespread than in anyone’s memory. The latest fashions sported reds, whites, and blues. Congress was more bipartisan toward unleashing the commander-in-chief and the military to do whatever it took to ensure the security of the United States. Citizens were accepting of inconveniences and encroachments on their freedoms in order to reduce vulnerability to terrorists. There seemed to be a rebirth of what had made America great and a determination to merge back into alignment with faith in God and the values of our founding fathers. But that rebirth was short-lived.
The next 20 years saw an exponential decline in the moral and spiritual character of our nation. With sadness of heart, I watched American cultural norms plummet as family priorities gave way to pursuit of careers, wealth, and pleasures. Church involvement and spiritual development were ignored. Infatuation with sexual identity was encouraged, even in our children. Abortion became more pervasive taking on radical support. Divisiveness was stoked by the “woke” movement, cancel culture, the racist mindset, and political partisanship. Lawlessness, from theft to drug use to homicides to the anti-police movement, paralyzed major cities.
Our political and military leadership has also failed us. Not only have our leaders contributed to the moral and spiritual dearth through their actions and inactions, but they have lost much of the nation’s global power and influence. Our allies trust us less, and our enemies fear us less than they did 20 years ago. The federal government has been fiscally irresponsible spending us into the verge of bankruptcy. The most formidable military in the history of mankind has become seemingly more interested in social experimentation than in defending our freedoms and keeping us secure.
As I memorialize and meditate on this profound anniversary, I will be remembering those innocent victims of the demonic terrorists and the heroic first responders. I will recall the subsequent unification and patriotism of all Americans resolved to become stronger and more godly as a nation. But I will also be concentrating on how we missed the opportunity for that to be a lasting resolve. I will be thinking about my grandchildren’s future study of September 11, 2001, and my generation’s response to it. I’m afraid it will be seen as an opportunity missed to set a new and better direction for their America.
Will God give us another chance to repent as a nation and correct our moral, spiritual, and political failings? Will we still have the opportunity to preserve the America of yesterday for our progeny of tomorrow? I guess that depends on who we decide to be as a people. Let us start by praying for our nation and its leaders.