On November 22, 1963, I remember being in the school library where the librarian suddenly turned on the television set. The President had been shot! As a second grader, I didn't really have a sense of what had happened, but I knew it was an event that affected everyone in our country. Our teacher had us kneel down when we got back to our classroom. She asked me to give a prayer for our country and for the President's family. I have that memory permanently etched into my mind.
When the World Trade Centers came down on September 11, 2001, I was on I-95 in Maryland driving into Baltimore to retrieve some props and set pieces. The breaking news interrupted what I was listening to on the radio. When I got back home, I watched the other news about the planes crashing into the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania not that far from where we lived. We knew people who worked and went to school in New York. We knew people who worked near the Pentagon. We knew people who lived in Pennsylvania. This tragedy was personal for us. And the memory is etched into my mind.
I think we all have recollections of where we were at the exact time of these and other national tragedies. We may remember things differently, but these memories bring us together because we all experienced the same events. Hopefully, we turn to God and remember to live according to our National Covenant.
On the Sunday after the 9/11 tragedy, my daughters and I were asked to sing my arrangement of "America, the Beautiful" for a memorial service. Singing the line "Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears" will never be the same for me again. Even now, I can barely sing through the tears during that verse.