I wanted to post something about the September 11 attacks today, since we're commemorating the tenth anniversary of that terrible day. I have all these thoughts swirling through my head, and I'm sitting here wondering--how do I put them into words?
Larry had just started his second year of preschool. Moe was less than a year old. I had dropped Larry off at his Montessori school and driven Curly and Moe back home, all the while listening to a Barney CD in the minivan. Soon after we arrived home the phone rang and it was my friend L. calling to tell me to turn on the TV. I wasn't sure what I was seeing at first; I only knew the World Trade Center was on fire. I don't remember whether I turned on the TV before or after the second plane hit, because the images were so horrifying that I kept flipping the channel to PBS so the kids would see Barney on the screen instead. I kept flipping it back and forth, and saw the plane that hit the second tower being replayed over and over. I talked to L. several times over the course of that morning; at one point she called to report the attack at the Pentagon. My husband was supposed to fly to Texas that day on a business trip. I called him at work, where he and his colleagues were all gathered around the television. He told me then that all flights had been grounded and that he would be home with us that night. I was supposed to meet L. that day in the park for a picnic lunch with our kids, and when the first tower fell she called me in tears to tell me that she just couldn't; she needed to stay at home where it was safe. I briefly flipped the channel again from Barney to the sight of only one tower standing, and lots of smoke and dust surrounding it. The reporters were in shock; I don't think they had quite grasped the enormity of what was happening just yet. Barney stayed on our television for the rest of the morning after that. Sometime in the middle of all this Larry's school called to tell me they were sending everyone home early. When I picked him up, he said, "Mommy, we didn't play outside today." I wanted to cry.
I remember playing outside with the kids later on that day and being keenly aware of the silence around us. Even on the quietest of days and nights at our house, there is almost always some traffic noise; we're so used to it that we often don't even notice. There is a pretty busy highway that runs close by, and there are always cars driving up and down our street. That day, there were none; everyone was somewhere watching the tragic events on television. Or at church praying, where I probably should have been. I remember hearing the sound of a plane overhead, and it was an eerie feeling. It seemed out of place in the silence. It sounded like one of those large military cargo planes, and I wondered what its mission must have been. That night Joe and I sat numbly in front of the television, watching the replays of the events over and over; the news conferences, people running and screaming, buildings crumbling, news reporters weeping. When asked how many people had died in the attacks, Mayor Giuliani told one reporter he really didn't know; it could be in the tens of thousands, and that the number of dead would likely be more than anyone could bear. One image that has stayed with me was of a man in a suit, covered in dust, talking with his wife on his cell phone, breathlessly telling her that the towers had fallen but that he was safe. As he looked up at the smoke-filled sky, he kept saying, "There are people in there. There are people in there."
We later learned that nearly three thousand people died that day. (The weird thing was, I almost felt relieved because I was sure the number would be much higher). Three thousand innocent people, going about their daily lives. Many of them were firefighters and police officers who rushed into the buildings while others were running out, even jumping out of windows to their deaths. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, we saw television and newspaper images of pictures that people had tacked to walls of their missing loved ones. We cried and prayed for all the missing people and their grieving families. We came together and vowed to never let this horrible act of violence ever happen to us again.
And yet, every day in the United States, we allow horrible acts of violence take place in abortion mills all across the country. Every day, more than three thousand innocent children are murdered under the guise of "women's health." That's more than the number of people killed on 9/11. Every single day. And 1.4 million innocents die every year. Since 1973, more than fifty million Americans have been systematically slaughtered by other Americans, and I can only imagine the amount of blood money that has exchanged hands in these homicidal hits. And too many of us just look the other way, and don't even care. Why? Because we've been fed a pack of lies by organizations like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the National Abortion Federation. We're told that a preborn child is nothing more than a parasite, a cancer, a part of a woman's body that she can discard if she so chooses. We're told that abortion is good and liberating for women--when in fact, it leads to increases in depression, alcoholism, drug use; even breast cancer and suicide.
The September 11 attacks happened on live television. We watched the towers burning and falling, saw the gaping, smoldering hole in the Pentagon. We saw the hole in the ground where United Flight 93 crashed. We saw the photos of the people who were dead and missing. We heard about the heroes who ran into the buildings to save the victims, who worked for days and days searching for survivors in the wreckage, the passengers on Flight 93 who bravely fought the hijackers to bring down the plane that would have killed hundreds more. Abortion is the ultimate act of terrorism, and it's done very quietly right under our noses. We don't see the babies being dismembered and crushed and thrown in the garbage. We don't hear the screams and cries of the mothers who grieve for their dead children, wishing they could bring them back.
The number of dead children by abortion in America is more than we can bear. Sometimes when I'm walking through a crowd, I look around me and wonder, "Who's missing? What would this world be like if there were no such thing as abortion?" I daresay it would be a happier place. (Do you know that as we waded through the crowds in Ocean City and Baltimore recently, I did not see a single person with Down's Syndrome? Not on the boardwalk, on the beach, in the restaurants, in the grandstands, on the streets--not one. Is this because 90 per cent of people with Down's aren't allowed to be born? It made me very sad.) In the last ten years, we have sent thousands of men and women overseas to make sure the kind of attack that took place in September 2001 never, ever happens again. Over five thousand of those never came back. These people are heroes--and no matter what your opinion might be about whether or not these wars have been justified, I think you would agree. (My brave cousin Tyler just returned to Afghanistan after a short time at home on leave. Please join me in praying that God will keep him safe from harm until he returns to his family.) We must also fight to make sure that the evil scourge of abortion is abolished forever.
The unborn have heroes fighting for them, too--people like Abby Johnson, Alveda King, David Bereit, Shawn Carney, Father Frank Pavone--the list goes on and on. At the end of this month, the fall 40 Days for Life campaign will begin, and thousands of ordinary people like you and me will stand in front of abortion clinics, quietly praying for the killings to end. We'll pray for the mothers, the fathers, the babies, and the abortionists. I am always heartened by the number of women who decide not to abort their babies, and the numbers get higher at every campaign. Abortion clinic workers leave the industry and begin to speak out for the unborn. Planned Parenthood is losing funding and clinics are closing. Our prayers are working. Life is winning, but the fight is far from over: we're still seeing new abortion centers being built, pro-abortion forces are pushing to block bills that would defund Planned Parenthood and put restrictions on abortion, and meanwhile pro-lifers are accused of being violent extremists who are out to take away women's rights and undermine women's health.
Today we pray for our country. We pray for the victims of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. We pray for their families and friends. We pray for the men and women in our armed forces who risk their lives to keep America safe from those who would do us harm. Let us also pray for the most vulnerable among us--the children in their mothers' wombs. I'll leave you with this reflection that was printed in our church bulletin today:
On this anniversary of 9/11, we pray for all those in our country and throughout the world at war, whose lives have been shattered by violence. We also pray today for all those who have lost a child, a grandchild, a brother or sister to abortion. We lift up the abortion providers in our communities, that they might use their gifts and talents to support non-violent solutions to unplanned pregnancy. And we pray for those who have personally experienced the pain of abortion, that they may experience authentic forgiveness that comes only from God. (Theresa Burke, Founder of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, 9/04)
Never forget. Never give up.