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September 10, 2021

Remembering

Remembering September 11

“The events of September 11 prompted humanitarian and educational efforts throughout the world, including the Roberts Wesleyan College community. [The Campus Chaplain] opened the Andrews B. Hale Auditorium for prayer almost immediately after the news broke that morning. Classes were cancelled. Student groups began praying throughout campus and continued around the clock the first few days after the attacks. The Roberts Wesleyan Student Association quickly collected 700 pounds of food and $1,000 to donate to relief efforts. Students donated blood in droves. Roberts’ Division of Social Work and Social Sciences sent eight teams of students and faculty, one week at a time, to Manhattan, where they worked with the Salvation Army to issue disaster relief funds and counsel victims.” (Roberts Today, Winter 2002, marking the one year anniversary)

Twenty years ago, life changed. Tragically, awfully and unforgettably, thousands were lost and thousands of first-responders and citizens were profoundly and permanently affected by what they saw and did that day and the days that followed.

While many of us knew the story of Pearl Harbor, that day in September jolted us to attention in completely new ways. This was New York and Pennsylvania - our home states. Washington, DC - our capital. A connection to those we knew and those we didn’t, rocked us. The proximity to terror changed us. It reminded us of our vulnerability and our mortality. It also reminded us of our identity and our mission as a community of faith.

The Roberts campus responded by doing what we knew how to do: we prayed. We collected, we donated, and we went to provide aid. And besides mobilizing to meet the human physical, emotional and mental needs, we kept going with the calling of our educational mission:  We discussed, we listened, and we engaged and processed the topics - the very hot topics - of the day. We did this in light of our faith, aware of God’s mercy and depending on His faithfulness. Despite the crisis, maybe especially in crises, we work to move life and learning forward.

Many of our students on campus today have no memory of that day, so we who were there have a duty to remember well, and remind us all of our calling to be a people who serve by praying through crises, by working to meet the needs of others, by engaging in the heated topics of today with an attitude of humility and grace. At the heart of our faith is a call to remembrance and a commission to serve others - in ordinary, normal life as well as in catastrophic life-altering circumstances. This weekend we remember those whose lives were lost and the families left, those who ran into the devastation to save and those who serve to protect our nation.

We remember.


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