Such a sad day. As Leonard Cohen put it, The Day They Wounded New York. Those of us who were alive and lived through it remember precisely where we were when we heard the news. I was pulliing into our main campus entrance for my 9am Intro to New Testament class when my wife Lori called me–she was at work downtown at her office on the 12th floor, across from the BOA building. They were asked to evacuate in case there were more attacks–with the BOA building being a prime possibility. She was able to see a TV just as the news broke that some kind of plane had hit the World Trade Center. We knew no details. I rushed to class, told everyone the news, and urged them to get to a TV. As we left the class, unknown to us, the second plane hit the other tower at 9:03. There were not many TVs on campus and streaming news in those days was not a thing. Hundreds of us ended up in the Cone Center crowded around a little TV up on the wall. Sitting here now, watching the reading of the names, hearing Bruce sing his song, it is just overwhelming. We are sitting here watching together, hot tears streaming down.
My growing up moment was November 22, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was brutally murdered. For my parents it was of course Pearl Harbor. My students this semester are mostly 18-22–so September 11th 2001 was something they grew up hearing about. My hope is they will NEVER in their lifetimes have such a tragic events of horror that have marked our lives since WW II.
In my study of the historical Jesus I have often thought of these twenty year periods–how the living would have had such vivid memories of April 30 CE and the tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion in 50 CE–when James, Peter, and Paul gathered in Jerusalem–and then another twenty years and the horrible terror, death, and sorrow of the destruction of Jerusalem. We sometimes think of those passing decades from 30-70 CE as some interminable time–but clearly the living easily remember past decades with incredible vividness.