By Daniel Briggs
I remember turning on the television and seeing the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I remember thinking it didn’t look real. I was in California, thousands of miles away, so it didn’t feel real. But after I moved east for school, I met people who were there when it happened. And when I visited Ground Zero, I saw just how real it was. Where were you on 9/11? Will you ever forget that day? Should you? Something like that changes a person. It has to.
I remember deploying to Afghanistan a few years into my service with the Air Force. As a legal advisor in Afghanistan’s new national security court, I assisted Afghan prosecutors in their efforts to convict Taliban members. Day after day, I reviewed evidence recovered in the field, including propaganda videos and images. Beheadings. Suicide bombings. Stonings. Something like that changes a person. It has to.
Stepping away from the context of war, there are events here at home that I will never forget. For my parents, one instance is when JFK was shot. For me, it is when the marriage decision came down. I remember standing outside the Supreme Court steps and watching the runners tear out across the plaza, eliciting a roar of celebration from the LGBT community. Their jubilation did not make me feel angry or outraged, but, instead, profound sadness no less intense. Anger and outrage came after I watched the first Planned Parenthood video. And the second. And the third…Something like that changes a person. It has to.
We all have faced moments in our lives that have changed us, for better or worse. It's what we do with and in those moments that defines who we are. We can either stand, united, or we can stand aside.
And so, I want to take a moment to thank you, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you, to each and every one of you living out your faith, for standing firm. From feeding the homeless to giving hope to children around the world to delivering justice for the oppressed to defending the defenseless, your service and sacrifice are overwhelming.
You may not be thanked for your service by strangers at airports. The PA announcer may not have you stand and be recognized at sporting events. In fact, rather than the well-deserved accolades received by my friends in the military, many of you will receive acrimony. But do not lose heart. Continue to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. One day, when you finish the race and you meet your Maker, you will be greeted with this: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I can only imagine how wonderful that day will be. Something like that changes a person. It has to.