FIRST-PERSON: Pausing to ponder

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)--"We do not remember days; we remember moments," a wise person once observed. There are a number of occasions Americans dare not forget. These significant historical episodes -- some good, some bad and some even ugly -- provide an excellent opportunity to reevaluate and reflect on the blessings we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.

Among the events worthy of remembrance are the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving, America's Declaration of Independence, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the D-day invasion of Europe and the Holocaust. These and other historical junctures deserve nothing less than our undivided attention.

Two years ago, the list above was amended. Added to the roster were the attacks that took place on September 11. The tragic events that unfolded on that day should never be forgotten.

Pausing to ponder the events of 9/11 produces a veritable buffet of food for thought.

After Islamic terrorists turned passenger jets into lethal weapons, we were soberly reminded that each day is filled with uncertainty. Life comes with no guarantees. It is as fragile as it is exciting. It's been two years since the attacks, and one message is still crystal clear: Life is a precious gift; rip into it every day and live it to the full!

Reflecting on the ominous day that saw the World Trade Center destroyed, the Pentagon damaged, more than 3,000 individuals die, and the nation disrupted, we have an inkling of how truly precious our freedom is. There are Muslim extremists in the world that, if they possessed the means, would snatch sweet liberty from our grasp.

The strike that took place two years ago serves as a symbol of the hatred Islamic terrorists harbor toward citizens of the United States. In their minds, there is no such thing as an innocent American.

The attacks carried out on September 11 were aimed at Americans in general, because of what we are as well as what we are not. We are free, we are prosperous but, worst of all, we are not Muslim. To the Islamic terrorists, we are simply infidels, one and all.

Looking back, it is clear that inaction was not a prudent response to such calculated and indiscriminate mass murder. The only thing terrorists understand is a force greater than their own. For the sake of freedom -- for the sake of security -- America had to act.

Contemplating the days following the attacks of September 11 also is enlightening. It seems that America received a taste of unity it had not savored for some time. We realized that Muslim terrorists defined us differently than we had come to define ourselves.

We learned that terrorist hate does not hyphenate. To them we are not Native-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latin-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans and fill-in-the-blank-Americans -- we are simply Americans.

Two years ago we embraced one another because we were simply Americans. Our chests swelled with pride each time we encountered the flag. Our eyes welled with tears when we sang "The Star Spangled Banner." We were sad and we were angry because fellow Americans, going about their daily routines, had been brutally killed. "We" had been attacked.

Events like September 11 were simply too tragic to allow them to pass without recognition. It is incumbent upon Americans to remember significant historical moments. Recalling them serves as a reflecting pool that forces us to look beyond ourselves.

By seriously contemplating certain past events, we have an opportunity to deepen the appreciation for the precious blessings that are ours as citizens of the United States. Upon reflecting on the events of September 11, 2001, I thank God for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Boggs is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore. His column appears weekly in Baptist Press.

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