On this 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, I think it’s appropriate to reflect on a more current problem in order to properly honor those who were lost.
The above photo was given to my wife and I by a friend who was at the scene shortly after the Twin Towers fell. I’ll share more about him and his journey in a moment.
The Scriptural quote, from Micah, is representative of the faith that many Christians have regarding the outcome of events like 9/11. But, it also represents the faith we have that justice, in the end, will prevail for all.
“He will bring me forth into the light, I will see His justice.” – Micah 7:9
That is one of the founding principles of the United States of America, and one of the essential reasons we cannot be defeated by destroying our buildings.
We are more than our land, more than our buildings and more than our flag.
Which brings me to my point for today.
I’ve been asked repeatedly about athletes refusing to stand for the National Anthem before football and other games.
I work with athletes, so this is a natural thing, I suppose.
Colin Kaepernick, et al, are refusing to stand for the Anthem. The reason? To protest “oppression” in America.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony of oversized boys, paid millions to play a game and idolized by children everywhere who will never reach their level of athletic and financial success, protesting a symbol of the nation which spawned the system which permitted their rise.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, here’s what I think.
You think this nation is racist, oppressive, yada, yada? Fine. Stand up anyway.
Here are a few reasons why…
Stand up for the people who tune in week in and week out, even when their team is sucking wind, and live and die with your record.
Stand up for the guy in the cheap seats who worked 3 straight weeks of overtime to afford 2 tickets so he could take his daughter to see her favorite player for her birthday.
Stand up for the single mom who took a second job so she could afford to buy her son or daughter an official NFLPA jersey with YOUR NAME on it.
Stand up for the woman working in concessions and raising her kids alone because their father is nowhere to be found.
Stand up for the kid sitting at the game because the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his wish to see you play in-person before he dies.
Stand up for every one who would give anything to be able to put down the crutches, get out of the wheelchair or get out of their deathbed and play five minutes in your shoes.
Stand up for the guy in Section 342 who came home from Afghanistan and was awarded the Purple Heart for bravery…and a titanium leg to replace the one he lost to an IED.
Stand up for one of the bravest men I know, who on a Tuesday morning in September of 2001 got the call to take his suburban New Jersey First Aid squad to Liberty Island.
When they got to Liberty Island, they were assigned triage for the victims of the worst act of war and terrorism ever perpetrated on American soil.
Stand up for him, because when he got the call telling him that the FDNY could hear voices in the smoldering rubble that had once been the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings, he answered that call.
This hero spent 3 days “on the pile,” listening carefully, tapping boulders and following the dogs assigned to track the possible scent of any human.
He pulled dozens of bodies from the smoke and ash, and even managed to help save one survivor.
And one is enough to justify his sacrifice, in his own words.
What is his sacrifice? Today, he’s dying a slow death of what’s being called “9/11 Syndrome.”
15 years later, that’s his legacy. Do you think for a minute he wouldn’t trade places with you? Do you think HE’D stand up for the anthem?
So stand up, gentlemen.
Stand up for the man who gave the above photo to my wife and me. Stand up because in the middle of a tragedy, he took a minute to photographically illustrate beauty in the face of ash and the face of God in the midst of evil’s remnants.
And when the game is over, remember all the people you’re standing for. Love them, pray for them.
Then take your strength and your wealth into the community and lift others up. Fight the “oppression” you claim is keeping you from honoring all those who support you. Create something. Help a child become something more. Reach someone outside your own ego.
Give back. Go back. Lead them all forward. Make real change.
Be the change you would see in the world. More important, be the change you would see in this great nation, and be the agent of that change.
When you do, I’ll be happy to watch your games and support you again. Until then, I’ll miss you, but I have change to make in this world…
2 Corinthians 4:16-18