America Reflects on Her “Darkest Day”

By Charles Crismier

The day was September 11, 2001. Headlines called it “AMERICA’S DARKEST DAY.” How should a nation mark an anniversary of such horror? How will you mark this solemn moment in your memory? What message will redeem our pain and promise legitimate hope without unduly pandering to our feelings?


A Moment of Horror

Millions sat paralyzed as four planes hijacked by Islamic suicide terrorists seeking Mohammed’s heaven plunged a nation claiming to be “under God” into hell. It was inconceivable! In a single hour, two towering symbols of America’s economic trust dissolved in slow motion before our unbelieving eyes while the Nation’s Capitol, the bastion of our defense became a blazing inferno.

Terror swept the nation as the World Trade Towers were reduced to rubble in America’s greatest city. Acts of heroism brought a flicker of hope, but many wondered privately, How could a motley band of fifteen terrorists pursuing death of “The Great Satan” so easily penetrate, without detection, the defenses of the only super power on earth whose revered motto remains “In God We Trust?”

As the gripping events of the past draw again our gaze, we must dig through the rubble, putting events in context that we might discover purpose through our pain. Perhaps, looking through the pages of history, we can glean a glimmer of hope filtered through the form of an address we all remember. It was given to aid a nation searching for hope and purpose amid the horror of battlefield losses as the blood of untold thousands was sacrificed to cleanse the land from the curse of slavery. Let us follow the pattern of Lincoln’s lines, wedding them to our present dilemma. Perhaps we will find hints of hope.

Capturing the Context

Four centuries ago, our forefathers began toward this continent a voyage of faith. It was an “errand into the wilderness” pursuing a “promised land” where divine blessing would grace the governance of a people in covenant with their God, reflected in their covenant with one another. Pilgrim and Puritan, pastor and people, governors and the governed, determined to live in truth, thus escaping tyranny and terror. Faithfulness to the vision, would make the new nation a “City set on a hill,” and freedom’s holy light would illuminate the world with the liberating gospel of Christ.

Today we are engaged in uncivil wars… on terrorism and on truth, on culture and crime, on drugs and divorce, on faith and on family… testing whether this nation so conceived and so consecrated can long endure. Fighting terrorism without, even greater and unseen evil assaults our souls from within.

As we mourn over terrorist destruction asking, “why?”, our trust in one another and our institutions has become a casualty on the battlefield of truth. The blood of forty million unborn innocents terrorized by American parents in the pursuit of happiness cries from this hallowed ground even as we weep over the haunting memory of three thousand innocent citizens destroyed at the hands of foreign terrorists in their twisted pursuit of holiness. Terrorized from within and without, we now freely give up our freedoms in exchange for homeland “security”, desecrating the memory and sacrifice of those who throughout centuries so bravely shed their blood, devoting their sacred honor to preserve the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

It is altogether fitting that we should gather to remember and to mourn. We lament together our loved ones lost and our brave ones who, in the face of death, gave their last full measure of devotion for their countrymen. The world itself will never forget what happened here.

Yet, it is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the task so nobly begun. It is for us to massage not only the memory of an agonizing moment so indelibly impressed upon our minds but to painfully measure its meaning upon our hearts and souls. Will we resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain? Will we resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth?

A Message of Hope

Lincoln reminded us of another viewpoint when drawing from the scriptures he declared, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a rebuke to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Might the Lord of nations have brought rebuke through the hands of an evil empire to a nation that increasingly cries for His blessing but whose citizens refuse to submit to His authority? It would not be the first time as ancient Israel can attest. For history records that God raised up Babylon through “Nebuchadnezzar…my servant” (Jer. 25:9) to bring corrective judgment to the very people He chose to carry His name.

Would not the just character of a God worthy of serving require, in divine integrity, that He similarly respond to a nation that claims His promises but rejects His precepts, and whose early founders conceived her much as “a new Israel?”

As profound pain continued to wrench the nation in deepening despair and desperation, Lincoln rose to the occasion by leading the nation to its knees in a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer. We might well consider following suit in our generation; for his words seem to have been crafted to renew the soul of America today.

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior virtue and wisdom of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

It behooves us, then, to pray to the God “who hath made and preserved us a nation,” to humble ourselves before His mighty hand, and to face His truth even as we face our tragedy. Are we willing to ask the probing questions that will provoke healing in our hearts and homes? Are we willing to answer honestly and in humility? Only history will record our answer. Let us, therefore, consecrate our hearts and homes, our churches, our schools, our businesses and yes, even our government to the task of confronting truth in the face of tragedy. Let our horror lead to hope.


“Renewing the Soul of America” is America’s only hope!
Charles Crismier, author of a new book, Renewing the Soul of America (Elijah Books), is President of Save America Ministries and host of Viewpoint. His website is www.saveus.org.

©Charles Crismier III, 2002.

Produced By…
P.O. Box 70879 • Richmond, VA 23255
(804) 754-1822 • (804) 754-1823 FAX • www.saveus.org