The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Never forget 9/11?

This morning a friend sent me an email showing newly released photos of the World Trade Center buildings as they began burning, and then crumpled and toppled to the ground on that horrendous day on Sept. 11.

The title of the email, “September 11, 2001 — Never Forget!” reminded me of other times when something terrible has happened and we’ve been urged to never forget (and maybe even consider taking revenge):

• “Remember the Alamo!”
• “Remember the Maine!”
• “Remember Pearl Harbor!”

These remembers stand in sharp contrast to what Jesus teaches us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven …’ ” (Matthew 5:43-45).

And again in Luke: “But I say to you that listen, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you’ ” (6:27-28).

The idea of never forgetting, of trying to get even, comes too easily to all of us.  Witness these billboards currently showing in U.S. cities:

• For a new shoot-’em-up movie: “Revenge is beautiful.”
• For a new TV drama, in huge letters that stretch across the whole display: “Revenge.”

How different from the way the Amish responded when a lone gunman attacked their one-room country school in Nickel Mines, Pa., in October 2006. After he shot and killed five young girls and wounded five more, then turned his gun on himself, the Amish didn’t urge each other to “never forget.” Instead they hurried over to the gunman’s home to comfort his widow and children and give them the help they needed. And within a week they tore down the school and built a new one a distance away to keep tourists from visiting the site and remembering.

There can be times when we need to remember past events that were extremely damaging, extremely hurtful. Those living in Germany today need to remember Adolf Hitler’s atrocities and work to never let such things happen again. We in the U.S. need to remember how American Indians and our African brothers and sisters were treated and do what we can to make things right. Maybe Jesus is calling us to be less concerned about remembering how others have hurt us, and more concerned about how we might help those we’ve hurt.


Kathy Keasler

Kathy Keasler

Posted at 12:44 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/13/2011

This puts into words what has bothered me about some of the recent articles and comments in the media. Thank you!

Jose M. Torres

Jose M. Torres

Posted at 1:48 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/13/2011

For the same reasons that are pointed out in this article was the reason I could not celebrate neither the death of Osama bin Laden. God and specially Jesus taught us to forgive the transgressions done to us and to pray for them (Matthew 6:14-15). The Lord tell us not to take vengeance in our own hands (Romans12:19 - Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord). In other words, forgive and forget is the call made to us in order to live a full christian life and enjoy the blessings our Lord have in store for us.

Note: Jose M. Torres edited this post at 1:52 pm on 9/13/2011.

linda Walker

linda Walker

Posted at 6:11 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/13/2011

I wish your friend had sent you a picture of the memorial with the waterfalls and the names of the victims of this tragedy.  Over 100 families have never had any remains identified to be able to bury their loved one.  For them the 'always remember' refers to the one who died at that place.  On 9/11 our congregation held a 12 hour prayer vigil to remember the families and the responders who are still suffering and dying.  The strength and the miracle of our faith is that we can forgive and not forget.

Gerry Miller

Gerry Miller

Posted at 8:15 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/13/2011

Thank you pastor Jurgensen!  You share a message we need to hear.  Many will never forget because they suffered terrible loss, but when we, as a nation, repeatedly rub salt into our own wounds we are bound to obsess about revenge.  So grateful for Pr. Jurgensen's message!

Keith Gatling

Keith Gatling

Posted at 5:52 am (U.S. Eastern) 9/14/2011

Thank you for these words. I was afraid of what you might say, but was actually quite pleased. If you don't mind, let me add another insight to this from my own blog:


Note: Keith Gatling edited this post at 5:54 am on 9/14/2011.

Carol Goulet

Carol Goulet

Posted at 9:15 am (U.S. Eastern) 9/14/2011

As we prepared a rememberance gathering  on 9/11 to celabrate the lives of those lost and the progress of the years since we invited all the groups in my town to take part including the Amon from our local Islamic temple. He joyfully accepted.  As the planning progressed a family member of someone lost in New york on 9/11 pressured the group into "unasking" him.  I, because of my involvment with interfaith activities, was asked to do this. The conversation was one of the most difficult ones I have ever had, after tears the Amon prayed for peace to those families (including his own who had lost 3 members in 9/11 who worked in the towers). My prayer was that others would take the time to get to know our muslim neighbors. By knowing them we will undersatnd that the tragetiy of 9/11 is not what Islam is about it is about worhisping God, caring for family, helping the poor. Not any different then what we are about.

Alice Argon

Alice Argon

Posted at 10:19 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/14/2011

I've heard too much in the churches about cheap forgiveness.  What right do we have to forgive someone else's murderer?  Where do we draw the line? What about the Holocaust?  What would a Jew say?  It sounds like we care less for the victim than we do for the perpetrator.  Remembering is about naming evil as evil.  Remembering is about lamenting for a time.  Remembering is about acknowledging that there are tragedies in this world that we will never fully comprehend.  Remembering is about drawing a little closer to the crucified Jesus.  It's not always about revenge.  Innocent Muslim-Americans are just that.  Innocent.

Pamela  Slette

Pamela Slette

Posted at 10:48 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/19/2011

In the early morn of 11 September 2001 I arrived on the Marina at 1 North End Avenue to a new job in The Merchantile Exchange Building.  I was optimistically watching the  lower Manhattan commerce come to life, as the ferry stopped to bring people to work downtown Manhattan.  The picture perfect day is still a vivid recollection and the way I like to remember the Marina, The Winter Garden and life in America.  When within the hour the Merchcantile Exchange was evacuated, the word on the street was that a commuter plane strayed off course hitting the WTC Tower.  But the siren call to Firefighters and Police in New York City was far more severe as with courage and conviction racing into dangers unknown they wrestled there with evil.  It was then clear to the entire world, almost at once, terror had been unleashed in Freedom's Native Land and dark clouds of soot and dust prevailed.   What did they miss?  Terroristic fury missed a flood of goodwill from North, South, East and West which surprised even the heart of New York.  As volunteer's and vigilant visitor's arrived in a then ravaged lower Manhattan, heart's made of gold will forever be remembered on 9.11.

aka Patriot's Day

Note: Pamela Slette edited this post at 10:55 pm on 9/19/2011.

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Embracing diversity