Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
Wow, 10 years on Sunday. Can you believe it’s been that long?
This weekend we will take time to relive the moment we first heard the news, when we got the call saying, “Turn on the TV,” or the email reporting that something horrible was happening in New York. I doubt any of us will ever forget seeing the the towers fall.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of media coverage of this 10th anniversary as well, showing the heartbreaking footage from that terrible day. Then, as the new week begins, the footage of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon will be replaced by current events, and our feelings about the attacks will once again become buried under the details of daily life. Everything will go back to business as usual.
But we would do well to keep our memories of that time alive longer than just one day. Next week, we should ponder the anniversary of the week after the terrorist attacks as much as we reflect on the fateful day itself; we should relive 9/12 as much as we relive 9/11.
What transpired that morning a decade ago shocked most of us into better behavior, at least for a while. Witnessing suffering on such a large scale caused us to pause and pray for the victims, for their families, and maybe even for the sick people who plotted this tragedy. (I was an atheist at the time, but I carried thoughts of deepest empathy for the victims and their families, which hopefully God was able to use somehow.) The bleak look at such terror and chaos showed us how much there is to be thankful for in the simple moments of ordinary life; I think most of us cherished our friends and families as never before in the days and weeks following 9/11. And the reminder of just how fleeting life can be led us to forgive old grudges, savor each moment, and be grateful simply to be alive.
My guess is that, for most of us, the way we acted the day after the attacks is closer to the way we should act all the time. And so as we remember what happened in the outside world on 9/11, let’s also take time to remember what happened within us on 9/12.