Remember the three firefighters who raised the American flag over the rubble of Ground Zero on September 11, 2001? The flag had been taken from a yacht moored in lower Manhattan. Shortly after its iconic photograph was taken, however, it disappeared.
Somehow it made its way to Washington State. In 2014, a man gave it to a local fire station; police determined its authenticity and returned it to its original owners. They later donated it to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, where it was unveiled yesterday.
The flag symbolizes the resolve of the American people in responding to the worst terrorist attack in our history. This Sunday will mark fifteen years since 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 were injured. Like me, you will never forget where you were on that horrific day. You may have wondered across the years what you can do to honor those who died and to prevent future attacks on our nation.
Let’s consider the second question first. Since 9/11, we have seen the rise of ISIS and multiple other radical Islamist groups across the world. They threaten our lives and our way of life. We must respond with our best military, economic, political, and cultural resources.
At the same time, this is ultimately a spiritual conflict with enemies who are motivated by an apocalyptic spiritual vision. That’s why it is imperative that God’s people pray for God’s Spirit to reveal God’s Son to Muslims the world over. In response to such visions and dreams, more Muslims than ever before are coming to faith in Jesus. We must increase our intercession as we fight this battle on our knees.
Now to the first question: How can we honor those who serve and those who have died? A dear friend of mine has made me aware of one specific answer to this vital question: the 9/11 Heroes Run.
This is a national race series that will be held in more than fifty locations across the US and abroad. Its purpose is to honor and remember the heroes of 9/11, those who fought in the wars since, and local heroes in each community where a race will be held: police, fire, military, veterans, and their families.
The 9/11 Heroes Run was inspired by Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, who lost his life in service to our country in 2007 as he selflessly protected his battalion in Iraq. Before his final deployment, Travis visited Rescue One in New York City—the station which lost nearly all its firefighters on 9/11—and developed a deeper passion for his service in Iraq.
His brother, Ryan, is president of the Travis Manion Foundation and explains: “Knowing that so many people gave their lives during the 9/11 attacks touched my brother Travis in a way that would forever change him.” The 9/11 Heroes Run is a tribute to Travis’s personal commitment to the heroes of that day.
Across its history, the 9/11 Heroes Run has raised over $3 million to facilitate programs for more than 60,000 veterans and family members of the fallen. It has invested more than $500,000 in local race communities to support police, fire, military, veterans, and their families. To donate or find other ways to support this effort, visit http://www.911heroesrun.org.
This weekend, let’s make time to pray. Let’s find a way to honor those who died and those who serve our nation and people. And let’s find practical ways to honor God’s call: “Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). As the song says, “They will know that we are Christians by our love.”