To the point week of 9-10-09

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TOMORROW (FRIDAY) MARKS A SOMBER day in our nation, as we remember the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on this country.

It has been eight years since our innocent citizens were attacked and killed by terrorists. Eight years since hundreds of brave police officers and firemen and emergency workers gave their lives in order to try and save others.

It’s a day that eight years ago changed the very fabric of our lives. It stirred us to remembering the great and wonderful things that we have been blessed with by living in this country; and a knowledge that we had taken many of those things for granted.

American Flags flew once again. “Patriotic” was more than just a word on some bumper sticker. Our brave men and women went to war in defense of not only our freedoms, but the freedoms of those who could not protect it themselves.

The hunt continues for the people responsible for these attacks, and the resiliency of a nation has been shown by the plans to build a memorial at the site of the attacks in New York City.

But as we observe this day, have we truly learned anything from it? In the short term, we as Americans rallied behind our national leadership and came together with a common cause.

I remember the strange feeling of looking up in the days following the September 11th attacks and thinking how odd it was that there were no planes flying overhead. The empty sky gave way to thoughts of the country and world that my children and grandchildren would live in.

Today, those memories are pushed aside as we listen to people complain about having to take their shoes off while trying to board an airplane. The security lines at the airport now annoy us rather than reassure us; and when the “security level” is raised and we are informed of it through the news, most of us give it little thought anymore.

But September 11th needs to be about more than airport security and moving from “Red” to “Orange” on our security level. It has to be not about the Taliban, but instead it has to remain focused on our forces who are right now in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

The eight anniversary of this tragedy also needs to be a celebration of the bravery shown by individual citizens who decided that they were going to make sure that others weren’t killed or injured – even at the cost of their very own lives.

It has to be about those firefighters and emergency workers who were running into those buildings even as thousands of people ran from them. Those men and women did that because they saw it as their duty and their responsibility to help those who could not help themselves.

It also has to be about people like Robb and Adam Barlow.

Robb Barlow is the pastor at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Indiana; and Adam is his son. I have come to know the Barlows over several years, and count both of them as dear friends.

Robb retired from military service a few years ago, but still served as the chaplain of the National Guard base in Shelbyville. While talking with soldiers there who were returning from fighting in Iraq, he heard stories of the lack of clergy available to soldiers.

So he did something about it.

Robb Barlow reactivated into the military, and at the end of July of this year he headed to Joint Base Balad in Iraq to minister to soldiers who are stationed there. He will be there for a year. Away from his wife, Karen, daughters Holly and Carrie; and granddaughter, Madison.

Adam Barlow graduated from Shelbyville High School and enrolled in the ROTC program at Morehead State University in Kentucky. During his summers he attended every military training school that was offered; and upon his graduation he was commissioned into the Army and began serving his country.

That service now takes him to Afghanistan for a year; as he commands a group of soldiers stationed near Kabul. He is expected home in late June or early July of next year.

There are thousands of stories like Robb and Adam Barlow – I’m sure you have your own. What’s important to remember at all times, not just on September 11th; is that what happened eight years ago still reaches into each and every home in our country. It still means that men and women are away from their families today, fighting and protecting others in far off countries.

They won’t be home for dinner tonight; and we pray that they will be home soon and safe.

What tomorrow is about are the people who had their lives impacted on that day eight years ago; and also about the people who are having their lives impacted today because of those events.

We should never forget what happened on that Tuesday morning in 2001 – ands we should also never forget the sacrifices that are still being made by brave men and women eight years later.