This picture is permenantly burned in my memories from 10 years ago. I am not sure if the flag was raised on 9/12 or not, but this is the image I think about when I think about the day after the 11th. I believe this is even more powerful to me now than it was then. There is just something about the flag being raised over the wreckage by some of the men who were there when the buildings fell. This was a message. It said to those who planned the attacks, “We are still here.”
After NB went to bed last night, my wife and I watched a special about 9/11 on CBS. It was called, 9/11 Ten Years Later. It was amazing. It really was. It was pieced together from the footage from two brothers who were filming a documentary about a rookie firefighter along with the interviews in the time since. It was almost unbelievable that there just happened to be these two guys filiming these guys at the very moment the first plane crashed…and they were only a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center!
The firefighters were some of the first to the scene, and their chief was the first chief there and he allowed the filming brother with him to come into the building. It was surreal to see this footage from inside Building One. You are walked through the events from the perspective of the crew from this one firehouse. Everything was filmed. You feel like you are there when the buildings fell, because the camera was rolling.
It was a little hard to relive everything from that day, but I am so glad we watched until the end. What stood out most to me was what happened following the buildings collapsing.
The firemen from the house were separated in the confusion running from Building One and it coming down. The brother that was not at the WTC was at the firehouse. He filmed everyone as they came back. One by one they all returned, even the rookie who did not get back for six hours. Everyone got back. They were happy, but they took it hard as well. They were one of the only firehouses that did not lose one person. In a lot of ways, they felt guilty. They were still here, while so many of their brother firefighters were not.
I was not ready for what came next.
After going home for a few hours, all of them came back to ground zero. They felt like it was their duty to go and start digging and looking for people in the rubble. They were still here, and they owed it to those who weren’t to go look for them. Hundreds of firefighters, and others, came and dug. They were on 24 hour shifts. The first shift ended and they only found one person alive, but they came back again to look for more.
There was more to the show, but this is where I want to rest. How beautiful is that thought in the middle of the tragedy. They were still here, and they owed it to those that were not to risk their own lives to go looking. In a lot of ways, the firefighters in the documentary should have died. Most of them literally made it out of the building only minutes and seconds before it fell. They survived though the odds said they shouldn’t have. Instead of resting in that, though, they put themselves back into danger to look for others who were dying.
Isn’t this the story of how life should be? Isn’t this how Christians should view life?
We were dying in our sins. We were helpless from saving ourselves. The world was crashing around us and we should have been caught up in the debris, but we weren’t. Someone took our place. Someone died in our place. Jesus died the death we destined for. The building fell on him, not us. We were saved. We are still here. We are still here.
What is our response? Do we rest in the fact that we are alive? Or do we put this new life on the line to go search the wreckage of the world? Do we risk our safety to dig and offer life to those who are helpless, just as we were? Are we even trying? Or are we taking our life for granted? We are still here…but what are we doing about it?
I don’t know. This really spoke to me. I have lived most of my Christian life taking my “survival” for granted. That is changing. I am starting to see we need to leverage what we have for others. To help them see that they can be saved from the wreckage. To offer life. It does not mean just sharing the gospel when the situation comes up, but it means loving other people. It means serving other people. It means giving up comfort and safety to try to make a difference in other people’s lives. I am still here. I want to spend my life making sure other people have the chance to say the same thing.
What about you? What do you think? Are you still here? What are you doing about the others who aren’t?