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By David Bachelor, PhD
Pastor, Pearsall 1st Methodist Church
A crescendo of headlines this week are about future events to remember something that happened in the past. The impending nostalgia started last Friday when President Biden directed the U.S. government to declassify documents pertaining to the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and the downing of Flight 93. According to the Associated Press, the President plans to visit all three sites to honor those who died on September 11, 2001. The release of the documents is intended to pacify possible protesters since “many relatives, survivors and first responders said they would object to Biden’s participation in 9/11 memorial events if the documents remained classified.”
NPR reports the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania “features a towering musical instrument” to remember the people who died in there on 9/11. So, it is appropriate that in the Lone Star State (known for remembering past massacres- Goliad and the Alamo), Texans will be able to recall the events of September 11 through music. The Dallas Morning News featured Lee Greenwood’s “Stars, Stripes, And Remembrance Concert” at the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington on September 11. Greenwood’s song, God Bless the USA (written in 1984) became almost a second national anthem in the years after the Twin Towers fell. Another chance to reminisce on the 20th anniversary is happening in the Texas Hill Country. According to the webpage for Fredericksburg, Darryl Worley is performing in Harper at The Station on 290. Worley’s anthem, “Do You Remember” (2003) was a call to never forget those who died and those whose lives were forever changed by the three massacres back East.
The Bible also calls God’s people to remember tragic events. When Moses gave his good-bye speech to the ancient Israelites, he reminded the people of a massacre that happened forty years prior. Speaking for God, Moses said “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind” (Deut. 25:17-18). This command to “remember” also included a command to act. The action, in response to these memories, continued to shape events in Israel through the reign of Saul (1 Sam 14:48), and latter in Persia under Queen Esther (Esther 9:12).
Returning to the present headlines, not all the September 11 documents will be released. The U.S. government also remembers these events and believes there are people responsible for the attacks who were not on the four planes. Fox News reports that while memorial services are being held around the U.S., the pre-trial motions for the five men suspected of planning 9/11 continues in Guantanamo, Cuba. I guess the Bible is right: It is not enough to remember. Memory demands action.