Driving north, I noticed the dark, dense clouds that had been scuttling towards me started to gather and balloon, their volume quadrupling as I watched. A virga trail dipped low from an outer edge, curving downward but not quite touching the ground from my vantage point. My goal was to pick up my friend and get to the burger joint before it rained, and we made it inside but just as we sat down the rain pelted the windows, sending the outdoor umbrella waving and flapping, twisting in their holders. It seemed as the cloud itself had descended with the rain.
Dry and well fed, we ignored the weather and enjoyed our time together until her phone rang. Her daughter said as she was driving home the electrical wires came down, trees were uprooted and lights went black. She said her mother’s neighborhood was hit hard.
Driving her back home, we saw huge trees lying in the streets and yards of the houses. One had blown over right into her yard from a neighbor’s yard. Along her street people stood outside and gaped at the fallen tree that used to provide so much shade until half an hour ago. Powerful winds had yanked, twisted and jerked it up, leaving the roots exposed.
About a mile after I left her neighborhood there was no indication other than wetness that anything had occurred. One small, isolated neighborhood was brutalized by the microburst while the rest were simply rained upon, providing plants and creatures with life-giving water. The impact of this event was felt by all, but more heavily by a few.
Yesterday, 9/11, was remembrance day for Americans. A time to recall those who perished at the hands of terrorists, those who gave their lives in their duty to save, and those who lost their lives in heroic acts in answer to the cries of fellow human beings in anguish. A time to mourn anew, recalling the many families affected, the children, the wives, the husbands, the parents, the siblings, and the many loved ones and acquaintances, including those we’d never met but who, by their stories or actions, touched our lives and ingrained their plights upon our hearts. The Twin Towers was America’s heart that day, the devastation isolated to some city blocks while nearby other buildings were impacted only by the dust, the smoke, and debris that blinded vision and blanketed the area with macabre layer of loss. Across the USA we watched in disbelief and entered the first stages of grief. We talked through the denial that this could happen in our great land. We rallied in anger and outrage at those who did it.
Patriotism roared from us in the days and weeks that followed. Homes and business sported flags, flag lapel pins and red, white and ribbons were worn by all, and even cars were draped with miniature versions of Old Glory flapping as they sped by. Patriotic songs were wedged into the mix on the radio. Public prayer was accepted, and the news stationed jockeyed for the best “God Bless America” story. The song to call the children in at the elementary school my kids attended rotated between Queen’s We Are the Champions. and Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. We thanked our soldiers for their service.
And as young boys and girls joined their parents at the television to watch the war on terrorism unfolding on CNN, some of them felt the call to arms in their hearts. Some made a commitment to grow up to fight against terrorism, stand in the breach against the terrorist acts committed on our soil, and do their best to ensure the world would be a safer place. Some vowed that they would sacrifice their very lives to hold on to the freedom we all enjoy. To date, about 2,000 have done so.
Like the microburst, the war’s impact is, for the most part, isolated to the families left behind, yet across our land we live with, travel with, and adjust to heightened security measures and ignore the monotone announcements at the airport about suspicious baggage. We visit CNN when something else takes the spotlight.
To those who perished at the hands of the 9/11 attackers, to those who have buried their loved ones who answered the call of duty to save lives, or put others before themselves, and those who now hug a tri-folded flag instead of their hero or heroine who gave their all to stand for freedom, I salute you, I grieve with you, and I pray for those who are still and now immersed in the war against terror.
I pray for peace to rain down on all of us, and the Prince of Peace to reign through it all. May God have mercy on our troops, grant them protection, and fortify them with strength, power, and victory over evil.
I long for the day of homecoming, for my son, for all.

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