It is hard for me to believe that 20 years have passed since that Tuesday morning in September. When you are 20-years old, 20 years is a lifetime, but once you have become a senior adult, that same amount of time seems like the blink of an eye. That day is as fresh in my mind as if it had been only yesterday. Certain events seem to deeply embed themselves in our memories. Country music icon Alan Jackson asked the question in his hit song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” We not only remember the tragic events of such days, but we often remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing when we heard the news.

When President John Kennedy was assassinated, I was in the third grade. I still remember hearing the news. We had just returned to our classroom after lunch, when another student came down the hall shouting that the president had been shot and killed. I remember being scared.

Years later, in a shut-in church member’s living room, in Marietta, Georgia, we watched in shock and horror as the first space shuttle, Columbia, exploded in midair. I remember feeling sick in my stomach.

On that morning of September 11, 2001, I was driving to Gracewood Baptist Church, where I served as pastor, when a special news bulletin came on my car’s radio. They said a jet airliner had crashed in one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Seventeen minutes later, the second tower was hit by another plane. I remember being scared and sick at first. Then when I learned who had committed such cowardly and disgusting crimes, I was angry. That evening, an impromptu crowd of more than a hundred people gathered at our church to pray. The following Sunday, our church building was jammed, with standing room only available.

Now, 20-years later, we still have not forgotten. We set aside certain days to remember and celebrate great events. We call those special days holidays. We have religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter when we celebrate the birth of Christ, as well as his resurrection. There are other special days when we celebrate important events in our nation’s history. The signing of the Declaration of Independence would be one such day. We also have holidays when we remember those who gave their lives in battle as they represented our country. Of course, Memorial Day honors all who have died in all our wars, but there are other days like Pearl Harbor Day pr D-Day when we remember specific battles and events. Veterans day honors those who are still living but have served. These are not all official holidays, but days when we remember, honor, and give thanks.

September 11 is not one of those days - it is not a holiday. It is not a day when we celebrate and give thanks for what happened. We remember those who were murdered that day, we still pray for their families, and we still shake our heads in disgust at the criminals who committed those heinous crimes. We give thanks for those who survived, and those who rescued or recovered victims. It is a day that most of us who were alive then would like to forget, but never will…and we never should. We pray that similar events as those on that day will never happen again. We often say, it is a day that changed our lives, and it did, but it was also a day that proved how much our world had changed, but not for the better.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Tuesday edition. Visit for more information.

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