America Reflects on Her “Darkest Day”
By Charles Crismier
The day was September 11,
2001. Headlines called it “AMERICA’S DARKEST DAY.”
How should a nation mark an anniversary of such horror? How
will you mark this solemn moment in your memory? What message
will redeem our pain and promise legitimate hope without unduly
pandering to our feelings?
Millions sat paralyzed as four
planes hijacked by Islamic suicide terrorists seeking Mohammed’s
heaven plunged a nation claiming to be “under God”
into hell. It was inconceivable! In a single hour, two towering
symbols of America’s economic trust dissolved in slow
motion before our unbelieving eyes while the Nation’s
Capitol, the bastion of our defense became a blazing inferno.
Terror swept the nation as
the World Trade Towers were reduced to rubble in America’s
greatest city. Acts of heroism brought a flicker of hope,
but many wondered privately, How could a motley
band of fifteen terrorists pursuing death of “The Great
Satan” so easily penetrate, without detection, the defenses
of the only super power on earth whose revered motto remains
“In God We Trust?”
As the gripping events of the
past draw again our gaze, we must dig through the rubble,
putting events in context that we might discover purpose through
our pain. Perhaps, looking through the pages of history, we
can glean a glimmer of hope filtered through the form of an
address we all remember. It was given to aid a nation searching
for hope and purpose amid the horror of battlefield losses
as the blood of untold thousands was sacrificed to cleanse
the land from the curse of slavery. Let us follow the pattern
of Lincoln’s lines, wedding them to our present dilemma.
Perhaps we will find hints of hope.
Four centuries ago, our forefathers
began toward this continent a voyage of faith. It was an “errand
into the wilderness” pursuing a “promised land”
where divine blessing would grace the governance of a people
in covenant with their God, reflected in their covenant with
one another. Pilgrim and Puritan, pastor and people, governors
and the governed, determined to live in truth, thus escaping
tyranny and terror. Faithfulness to the vision, would make
the new nation a “City set on a hill,” and freedom’s
holy light would illuminate the world with the liberating
gospel of Christ.
Today we are engaged in uncivil
wars... on terrorism and on truth, on culture and crime, on
drugs and divorce, on faith and on family... testing whether
this nation so conceived and so consecrated can long endure.
Fighting terrorism without, even greater and unseen evil assaults
our souls from within.
As we mourn over terrorist
destruction asking, “why?”, our trust in one another
and our institutions has become a casualty on the battlefield
of truth. The blood of forty million unborn innocents terrorized
by American parents in the pursuit of happiness cries from
this hallowed ground even as we weep over the haunting memory
of three thousand innocent citizens destroyed at the hands
of foreign terrorists in their twisted pursuit of holiness.
Terrorized from within and without, we now freely give up
our freedoms in exchange for homeland “security”,
desecrating the memory and sacrifice of those who throughout
centuries so bravely shed their blood, devoting their sacred
honor to preserve the blessings of liberty to ourselves and
It is altogether fitting that
we should gather to remember and to mourn. We lament together
our loved ones lost and our brave ones who, in the face of
death, gave their last full measure of devotion for their
countrymen. The world itself will never forget what happened
Yet, it is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the
task so nobly begun. It is for us to massage not only the
memory of an agonizing moment so indelibly impressed upon
our minds but to painfully measure its meaning upon our hearts
and souls. Will we resolve that these dead shall not have
died in vain? Will we resolve that this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom that government of the people,
by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the
Lincoln reminded us of another
viewpoint when drawing from the scriptures he declared, “Righteousness
exalteth a nation: but sin is a rebuke to any people”
(Prov. 14:34). Might the Lord of nations have brought rebuke
through the hands of an evil empire to a nation that increasingly
cries for His blessing but whose citizens refuse to submit
to His authority? It would not be the first time as ancient
Israel can attest. For history records that God raised up
Babylon through “Nebuchadnezzar...my servant”
(Jer. 25:9) to bring corrective judgment to the very people
He chose to carry His name.
Would not the just character
of a God worthy of serving require, in divine integrity, that
He similarly respond to a nation that claims His promises
but rejects His precepts, and whose early founders conceived
her much as “a new Israel?”
As profound pain continued
to wrench the nation in deepening despair and desperation,
Lincoln rose to the occasion by leading the nation to its
knees in a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer.
We might well consider following suit in our generation; for
his words seem to have been crafted to renew the soul of America
“We have been the recipients
of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved,
these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in
numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious
hand which preserved us; and we have vainly imagined, in the
deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were
produced by some superior virtue and wisdom of our own. Intoxicated
with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient
to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too
proud to pray to the God that made us!”
It behooves us, then, to pray
to the God “who hath made and preserved us a nation,”
to humble ourselves before His mighty hand, and to face His
truth even as we face our tragedy. Are we willing to ask the
probing questions that will provoke healing in our hearts
and homes? Are we willing to answer honestly and in humility?
Only history will record our answer. Let us, therefore, consecrate
our hearts and homes, our churches, our schools, our businesses
and yes, even our government to the task of confronting truth
in the face of tragedy. Let our horror lead to hope.
the Soul of America” is America’s only hope!
Charles Crismier, author of a new book, Renewing the Soul
of America (Elijah Books), is President of Save America Ministries
and host of Viewpoint. His website is www.saveus.org.
©Charles Crismier III, 2002.
SAVE AMERICA Ministries
P.O. Box 70879 • Richmond, VA 23255
(804) 754-1822 • (804) 754-1823 FAX • www.saveus.org