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Friday, September 11, 2015

Who More Than Self Their Country Loved

Today as I always do on this morning, I will sit and remember the moments of September 11, 2001. I'll remember how as a 32 year old young mom and wife I sat in fear and horror picturing other women like me. Women who held babies as they prayed desperately that morning that their husbands would walk in the door.  I'll remember that suddenly I pictured all the wives over all the years who had prayerfully waited for husbands to come home.

On September 10, 2001, I had been a good American in my head. On that day, I would have told you that I loved my country and its servants. That I appreciated our firefighters and police officers. That I fully supported our military.  That I was grateful to the veterans of long ago wars that had established my freedom.  I stood for the pledge,  I sang our anthems.  On September 10, 2001, I would have told you that I could not love my country and its defenders more.

But I was wrong.  Because today, I'll also remember what happened to my heart and how it caught up with my head in the weeks that followed September 11, 2001.  How all of my senses were heightened on that inexplicably bright, gloriously sunny day of September 12th.  It was as if God was making everything more clear to me.  Forcing me to pay attention where I hadn't before.  My eyes looked more deeply into the eyes of my neighbors.  They noticed that the colors of the flag that hung outside my house were brighter.  Ironically, as the airlines were shut down and the planes stopped leaving the airport near my home, the silence seemed intensely loud in my ears.

Not long after that day I remember singing America the Beautiful in church.  I had sung that song countless times before, but on this day I really heard the words.  Especially those of the third and fourth stanzas.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life.
America. America.
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America. America.
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

And finally my heart understood.  Those men who had run into those burning buildings.  Those passengers who had sacrificed themselves to prevent that fourth plane from hitting its intended target.  Those soldiers who were preparing to travel miles away from their own families to protect mine.  And those many, many who had done the same in the wars before I had been born.  My heart understood what it really didn't fully understand before about the courage and sacrifice and loyalty and honor of those men and women.  Those Americans had more than self their country loved and mercy more than life.  Our veterans had been patriots whose dreams had seen beyond the years and had fought for me and all the generations to come after me.  I was in awe that day as I tearfully sang those words in church.  I am in awe today.

In August, Kyle and I were able to be part of a group of volunteers that welcomed veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War coming to Washington, DC with Honor Flight.  We held signs, waved flags, clapped and cheered and (I cried) as these heroes departed the plane.  It was one of the most amazing moments I have ever shared with my son.  I hope one day that my future grandchildren will have the honor to meet those who fight for them today, like my son was able to do that day this summer.

Today as I remember all of those we lost on September 11, 2001 and those we've lost after, I will also remember all of the veterans of all of those past wars who I greeted last month and the friends they lost.  I will again sit in grateful awe of those who loved their country more than themselves and who granted mercy to me by giving their lives.  I will pray God's blessings on our soldiers past and present.  I will know that through prayers for those brave, selfless men and women, my country will be also be blessed.

For more information on Honor Flight, go HERE.

(and please try to ignore how I spelled heroes incorrectly on my son's sign.  God Bless America and My Summer Brain)

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