believe we can grow stronger and fight back and even win. Godís
in control and he knows what heís doing. Evil may have his little
field day once in awhile, but as one wise man once said, 'This
too shall pass.'"
city and surrounding areas are still New York, but with a twist.
a twist of
View of the WTC area where the twin towers once
Photo by Gregg Gargan
"Children need heroes in this
day, now more than ever. I truly believe that if a child is given
a hero, they will do more then just look up to him. They will
try to be more like him or her. They will want to become a hero."
York, Littleton, Jonesboro and Oklahoma City. September 11th, 2001,
April 20th, 1999, March 24, 1998, April 19th, 1995. These places and
dates mean much to us all. They represent death, destructions and loss.
In over nineteen years of my life I have watched each of these events
play across the TV screen. I have felt the destructive pain these tragedies
have caused. And now, I turn to look at one of them, to search for answers,
to look for reasons and to find a way to fight back and not give up.
I will not back down, I will not give up hope, I will not bow down and
I will draw the line.
The wreckage on television was real to me and in the days after the
World Trade Center Towers fell from the sky, I became used to the those
images. My heart would still stop at the horrifying pictures, but it
was soon something I was used to. The affect was still there, each time
I heard a conversation about it or saw a video or read an impacting
story. I had moved past the stage of seeing the wreckage on television.
It was just there now, nothing more, nothing less.
They used to say our heroes were our sports icons, our CEOís and those
in high position. Today I stand before you to cast that out the window
and to remind you once again of what happened one day in September.
Firefighters, Police offices and Port Authority men and woman rushed
into the building, seeking to save lives and to evacuate those that
could be saved. They had no idea that the two towers would come falling
down, they didnít know what was going to happen. Yet, they still rushed
in, above and beyond the call of any duty they had, and did their job.
They sacrificed their life in the line of duty, so that somehow, someway,
someone would live. These are our heroes, these are our men and women
we should look up to and take after.
Children need heroes in this day, now more than ever. I truly believe
that if a child is given a hero, they will do more then just look up
to him. They will try to be more like him or her. They will want to
become a hero. They need someone to say, "Everything is going to be
just fine. Iím here to protect you." A sports athlete canít do that
and our normal modern day heroes canít do that. In a time of confusion,
a time of uncertainty and a time when kids know what is going on, we
need them. They feel whatís going on. They need someone to look up to.
Parents, this is my challenge. Be that person. Be that man or women
who makes them proud. Be a better person, if not for the betterment
of the world, then for your child, your teenager, or even that guy who
works next to you in his little cubicle. Your affect on people can help
bring them back from the edge. You can be a hero. Show you kids Firefighters,
visit Firehouses, show them Police Officers, and take them to Police
Stations. They need to know this world will continue and that we will
Recently, the Lullaby for Columbine Project went to New York on a ministry
mission. We left November 3rd, 2001 and returned the night of November
11th, 2001. New York is changed, to say the least. I was there about
a year ago on a family vacation and it was our first time in New York
ever. We went all over the town, taking endless pictures and even, fatefully,
traveling to the World Trade Center Towers and even going to the topmost
point to view New York. It was something I will never forget. And now,
it has even more meaning to me.
We flew into La Guardia, and as I looked out the window I searched for
the Twin Towers. I felt a drop in my heart as I realized the only two
buildings left were the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
My eyes were glued to the place they would have been as the place touched
down and taxied. It was still on my mind when we took a taxi out of
the city to our hotel. Our group looked out the windows and all seemed
to be saying the same thing. "Where are they?" They had been such a
symbol of the city and now there was nothing left. It was hard to not
see them, and it hurt. It hurt to know that somebody had the gall to
do what they did. We know what happened and it doesnít make life any
easier knowing exactly what happened on those planes and in those two
towers that morning.
But, we can fight back and we did our best on the trip. We were there
for ministry and ministry it was. The time we spent on the streets was
amazing. The reactions of people were heart stopping. The wreckage was
something unto itself. We had decided we needed to get down to "ground
zero", and to see for ourselves what we had only seen in pictures and
on the television. First, let me help you understand the scene. The
World Trade Center area is on the end of the island, near Battery Park.
She is surrounded by several streets in which you can actually see the
destruction and the ruins of the building that once sat tall. The smell
is the first thing that gets you. It is a mix of burnt rubber, smoke
and something else. It is unique and shocks you right where youíre standing.
The first time I saw over the barricades the wreckage my heart sank
again, just like it sank on April 20th, 1999 when my Editor in Chief,
Alyssa Rennecker screamed from the phone. Only this time it was worse.
I stopped in mid-step and just looked, open mouthed. It cannot be described
in words, what I saw. It was simply heart stopping.
It has been three months since our towers fell and since our hearts
broke. It has been only a short time since we were hit by terror. We
are still wary, we are still nervous and we are still hurting from what
occurred on that black day in September. But we will survive. I think
the most telling part of this is New York itself. Despite all that has
happened to that city, there is still a sense of moving forward. You
can feel it in Times Square, you can feel it on Wall Street and you
can feel it in Union Square. This is what New York is all about; this
is what the United States of America is about. The heart of this nation,
of its people, is that we donít give up and nor should we ever. In the
face of the greatest threat, in our darkest hour, we canít go down.
We cannot let the idea of terror win; we cannot let the idea of racism,
of hate and of indifference run wild in this place. It is a daily fight
that we must face with heart, soul, compassion and kindness. There is
something inside each of us, something we can do to make this world
a better place and our nation, and your communities need it now more
then ever. It is you, your words, your images or simply your hugs. It
is unconditional love. It is what Jesus taught us to have.
Christmas is now but a few moments away. Today, I sit here, tapping
away at my keyboard, thinking back to all that I have witnessed in my
life. I have witnessed Oklahoma City, I have personally dealt with Columbine
and I have watched as Jonesboro raced to the front pages. And now, having
seen the World Trade Center Towers fall in the name of terror, I add
one more to my list. One more tragedy, one more hit to our national
heart. But I can say this; there is good coming out this. We met with
many firefighters in New York and needless to say, I was given a new
meaning to Hero. By the way, warm and big hellos to Battalion 9, engine
54, Ladder 4 near the Milford Plaza. We must have been there for half
an hour, talking and just being there. When the calls came in, they
jumped into their trucks and booked it out without a thought of what
came next. No hesitation, no reluctance. These guys had lost fifteen
men on their watch that day and their pictures are in front as a reminder
of what happened.
I take this as an example for us as a nation. Donít be reluctant, donít
hesitate. Get out there and do something to help. Volunteer, get involved
and use you yourself to help make things a bit brighter for someone
in this world. Homeless, elderly, disabled, teens, moms, dads, kids,
and grandparents and just about anyone needs some kind of help these
days. I plead, no I IMPLORE you to get out there and be a hero to someone.
Just think, how you would feel knowing you had just changed someoneís
life for the better and maybe for the rest of their life? Itís possible.
You can be a hero to anyone.
New York is no longer the New York I knew. She is hurt, wounded and
bleeding. But people all around the city are working to patch her up,
to bring her back to her standing. She is now "New" New York as I would
call it. Times Square is still Times Square and an amazingly awesome
thing to just walk around and see. SUNY at Stony Brook is still Stony
Brook. The city and surrounding areas are still New York, but with a
twist. A twist of hope, a twist of courage and a twist of strength.
After all, this is the city Frank Sinatra graced with a song in her
honor. I donít believe we shall ever forget September 11th, 2001, or
April 20th, 1999 or March 24, 1998 or April 19th, 1995. I donít believe
we will ever forget our loss on those days. But I believe we can grow
stronger and fight back and even win. Godís in control and he knows
what heís doing. Evil may have his little field day once in awhile,
but as one wise man once said, "This too shall pass." And it shall,
God willing. God Bless you, for who you are. Good night and God speed.
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