A Memory of 9/11 & 2 Things it Taught Me

Twelve years ago, early in the morning on 9/11/2001, I was driving to work as a history professor at Morehead State University in Kentucky. I was preparing for my academic experience as I usually did–listening to sports radio. That’s what I was doing when I learned about the first terrorist attack.

Over the next few days, my students and I had very interesting class discussions regarding what might happen next. I remember a news report of nervous drivers making a run on a gas station that responded by jacking up its gas to over $6.00 a gallon. Just the implications of such a rise in travel costs was sobering in those days, but I was also concerned about something else: How could our nation hope to defeat an enemy whose fighters were willing to go on suicide missions?

Being a history professor actually helped me to find peace in response to this question. I remembered that America had already defeated an enemy that featured suicide runs–the Japanese in World War Two.

As I look back on 9/11, two other thoughts come to mind.

One, across America, church attendance doubled after 9/11, but within six weeks it was back to normal. Scared people who decided to give God a chance lost interest when the immediate threat faded away. But here’s another way to look at it: Our churches had a chance to offer seekers something special, but we failed to connect with our visitors in a meaningful way, so we blew our opportunity. The visitors failed to settle in, but we failed them, too. And since we had the answers they were looking for, our failure was worse.

Two, after 9/11 I felt a growing resentment towards the people who victimized us, and my resentment was not just confined to the terrorists themselves, but to others as well. Over the years, I have seen my need to repent of this attitude. You can’t share anything meaningful about Christ with people whom you have decided to not like. I learned this from a wise man.

So, dear reader, what did you learn from 9/11?