Has it really been 16 years since 9/11? It seems like it happened yesterday.
After September 11, 2001, WBT radio, a local Charlotte station, asked me to come in the next morning and host their programming for several days. During that time, I served as Charlotte’s counselor for grieving citizens and listeners.
As I approached the station during the early morning hours on September 12, knowing thousands would be listening to my comments, I was trying to think through what I should say. Seeking insights, I did what I often did: I called my dad. He always gave me wise counsel in difficult situations.
I’ll never forget his advice.
He said, “Son, simply tell them that if the sun comes up in the morning, there’s always hope.”
At that exact moment, the sun peeped over the horizon. Rays of sunshine shot across Charlotte. A new day had begun. Life continued. Therefore, there had to be hope.
On September 11, 2017, I awakened to more news about Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in the Houston area. Headlines shouted about Irma having just ripped through Florida. Its cumulative damage had not yet been calculated, but most estimates were in the billions of dollars. Hurricane Jose was still swirling in the Atlantic, showing a menacing force that could cause more damage to American soil. And Mexico was still rummaging through the rubble of a magnitude 8.1 earthquake---perhaps its largest ever. Buildings had collapsed. Lives had been lost. It will take years to recover.
9/11 was a manmade tragedy, yet it was still deadly and painful. Harvey, Irma, Jose, and the Mexico earthquake are results of nature’s forces gone awry. Yet they were still deadly and painful.
That’s when I began to wonder; If I had a microphone this morning, September 11, 2017, and had thousands listening to me as I did 16 years ago, what would I say?
I believe I’d say this: The sun came up this morning. Therefore, there is still hope. Keep moving forward. Don’t be dismayed. Life continues. Indeed, tragedy often shows the triumph of the human spirit like nothing else.
In fact, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite leaders, Winston Churchill. He motivated all of England to fight the Nazis with “blood, sweat, and tears.” The Brits would never give up in their determination to defeat fascism---whether it was on the land, in the air, or on the sea.
Churchill’s wordsmithing motivated extraordinary acts of heroism throughout England. People served, cared for others, and even gave their lives for the nation to continue.
After watching these extraordinary acts of courage, Churchill purportedly said, “As long as there is heroism, there is hope.”
Hope exists because the sun came up. Hope flourishes in the hearts of heroes---as evidenced in Houston, Florida, and Mexico. Will you ever forget the numbers of people in Houston using their boats to rescue people standing on roofs, waving desperately for help?
Aren’t you amazed at J.J, Watt, the Houston Texans football player? He set a goal of $1 million dollars to help people. He’s now raised over $30 million! And additional millions of dollars have come from all over the world through different disaster relief programs to help distraught hurricane and flood victims.
Hope always conquers despair, as light always defeats darkness.
We survived 9/11. We will survive all this as well.
Because there is always hope.