The Heroes of 9/11 – Why Self-Preservation Can Never See Glory

Angela Chininin Buele

If you are old enough to have graduated from college, you know where you were and what you were doing on September 11, 2001.  I, for one, was still in college in rural Illinois.  I had already been to my 8:00 English class that morning, and when I arrived at Speech 101, I was told about “a plane hitting a building in New York.”  It seems to me that my classmate suggested it had been an accident.  However, after classes were canceled, I returned to my dorm to see the footage for myself.  My generation’s coming of age had already experienced major school shootings, and now we were receiving a very real education on terrorism.

Anytime I thought of the horror that would cause someone to jump from the window of a 100+ story building, it brought me to tears.  The 911 calls and the voice mails would wrench at my heart as well.  We all watched on television as the building collapsed, killing thousands.  In the months following that terrible day, there was an incredible outpouring of help and supplies offered by people from all regions of the country.  But that morning-from our side of the television screen- we were unable to reach out to rescue the perishing or comfort the survivors.  But we knew there were hundreds of first responders – police, firefighters, and EMTs who were rushing toward grave danger in order to help those who were desperately flooding out of the Twin Towers.

Just over 15 years have now passed since that dark day.  Each time we reflect as a nation on the pain and the cruelty suffered by one and all because of those attacks, we rightly honor the brave men and women in New York and in Virginia and in the air over Pennsylvania who tried – and succeeded in saving lives that day.  First responders, firefighters, and police officers live lives of great danger and sacrifice.  They usually don’t face their own mortality in the line of duty, but their lives hang in the balance each and every day they serve to protect and rescue others.  And that brave group of civilian passengers aboard Flight 93, 40 souls who knew they would be murdered and decided to rescue others in their own death, have given us such a vivid picture of grace under fire.

When a woman faces an unexpected pregnancy, there are many fears that may assault her, but lives are at stake.  A hero emerges only when a brave sacrifice gives another the chance to live.  Hundreds of the heroes of 9/11 died in their sacrifice, and those they rescued live to tell others of their gratitude.  How much sweeter is it for the mother who gives birth to her child, whether to raise or to give up for adoption, to know that both child and mother have a continuing story of heroism.  You see, no one has to die for a hero to be made.

Key Question: What is the relationship between self-preservation and heroic sacrifice?

Unshakable Truth:  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you”  (John 15:13-14).

Sacrifice and giving, bravery and protection are a part of every good story.  Period.  As Jesus loved mankind and surrendered His life willing to offer the salvation of ours, we know we are His friends if He shows us a love for our neighbor that allows us to care for them without the chains of self-preservation binding our hearts.

The Real Choice:  Do you want life badly enough that you’d be willing to die for it?

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