Friday, September 9, 2011



Our news media is brimming with articles, video footage, still images, and audio recordings reminding us of the events of Thursday, September 11, 2001. Most of us remember vividly where we were and what we were doing the day the twin towers of the World Trade Center came crashing down. The images of airplanes deliberately flying into the towers will forever stick with us. The next several days will bring an increase in media coverage of this event that changed our world. This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of that day.

It will be a day of remembering. The 9/11 commemerative structures at ground zero will be revealed. The victims will be remembered. The men & women who died trying to save others will be remembered and honoured.

I remember sitting in a computer multi media class when I heard airplanes had flown into the towers. I remember worrying about my children; wondering how they were being affected by this news.

My kids had flown a lot in the 5 years prior to this event as they came to visit me frequently from Mississauga where they lived with their mom and step dad. Now they lived with Heidi and me and were faced with flying to Toronto to visit their mom. I remember my daughter didn't want to step on an airplane again. She voiced her preference for her mom to take the risk of flying to Winnipeg to visit her and her brother.

We all have memories. Memories are strange. Why do we remember some things and not others? Why are my memories different than others who have shared the same experience? Why is it so easy to remember the bad stuff and takes effort to remember the good? Why does my sister remember names and faces from as far back as kindergarten (50 years ago) and I have trouble remembering my neighbours' names?

Just like 9/11 there are things that stick with us.

I remember the day JFK was assassinated. I was 9 years old. I didn't immediately understand the significance of this news, and to this day I'm puzzled about why we (Canadian school kids) were sent home from school because the U.S. president got shot. I remember seeing a newspaper photo of the surgeon who tried to save Kennedy's life. In the photo he was pointing to the front right side of his head as he informed the assembled media where JFK had been hit. I remember the newspaper photo with the dotted line angling down from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository building representing the supposed trajectory of the killing shot that hit JFK in the back of the head. I remember my dad saying something was 'off' here.

I remember the construction of a high rise apartment building on Cumberland Avenue. A worker fell to his death during the construction. The next day's Winnipeg Free Press had a front page picture with a dotted line indicating the trajectory of the falling man. 

I remember the frenzy of end times excitement in the aftermath of Israel's stunning victory in the 6 day war in 1967. There was a heightened expectancy of Christ's imminent return! Where has that jubilation disappeared to?

I remember my dad taking me to the Winnipeg Arena for the Billy Graham crusade in the summer of 1967. I even remember the topic of the message being preached that evening. Billy Graham was going on and on about the coming war of  Armagedon. I remember that because a television light exploded above us in the middle of the sermon. We ducked because we feared the war had just started!

I remember air raid drills at school during the tense years of the Cold War. We had to practice hiding under our desks for protection from a nuclear blast. Who thought that one up?

I remember going to an orchestra concert at the old Civic Auditorium (now the Provincial Archive Building on Vaughn St) with my mom. We had seats in the first row of the balcony. My mom was so startled at the sudden drum roll calling us to stand for our national anthem that she dropped her program over the railing. My mom was embarrassed but I wanted to lean forward to see if it landed on someone as it fluttered down. I think my mom pulled me back because I don't remember seeing it land.

I remember my first trip to Germany in 1969. There were so many first time experiences. I met aunts and uncles and cousins for the first time. I remember watching the media coverage of the first moon landing during the time my sister and I were in Hanover, Germany. I remember my aunt driving on a section of the Nurburgring (site of the German Grand Prix at that time) in her little old VW bug that was challenged to go faster than 100 km/hr. Even going downhill I don't think it got over 110 km/hr. I remember workers at the side of the road laughing as we drove by.

I remember my first job interview. I was so nervous I had difficulty speaking. I'm surprised they hired me. I remember my first apartment and how good it felt to be away from my parents home.

I remember my first day at the Academy of Music and Theatre in Hanover Germany. I don't know how I passed the audition to get into that school. It was only by God's intervention. It certainly wasn't my inadequate violin playing skills.

I remember my 74 year old grandfather wanting to go on a bike ride with me and show me around Hanover. I don't know of any 18 yr old young man with a brand new racing bike that wants to be led around town on a bicycle tour by his grandfather. I remember I wasn't very keen on it but I did allow him that pleasure. (It was easier to do because nobody in that city knew who I was. Less chance of embarrassment that way).

I remember the stark harshness of my first up-close glimpse of the Berlin Wall. I vividly remember wandering through East Berlin and suddenly coming face to face with an East German Border guard. He had a sub-machine gun slung over his shoulder, a large Rottweiler on a leash in one hand, and a Doberman Pinscher on a leash in his other hand. I can almost still hear his voice as he told me, "You may not go any further here". I quietly turned around and walked in the opposite direction. I remember the anxiety I experienced as an East German Border guard gave me considerable grief when I was trying to return to West Berlin.

I remember the summer I left Winnipeg to hitchhike across western Canada. I remember moving from one fleabag hotel to another on Vancouver's Lower East-side. I remember the shock of regaining consciousness only to find myself behind bars in the drunk tank in Banff. I remember realizing it was time to leave town and make changes in my lifestyle when hotel security burst into my room in the employee's Annex at the Banff Springs Hotel wanting to search the room for drugs. I remember climbing to the top of Mount Rundle before I left for home.

I remember the nervous joy of my first wedding. I remember the thrill of the birth of my daughter, my first child. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the birth of my son. I remember the anger and grief at the ending of my first marriage. I remember the heartbreaking pain when my kids moved 1500 kilometers away with their mom and new stepdad.

I remember the joy I felt every time I picked my kids up from the airport and how difficult it was to put them back on a plane when their visit was over.

I remember the spirit crushing hopelessness of being a patient in a psych facility.

I remember the passion and energy of God's gift of new purpose and a new career. I remember the sense of challenge and fulfillment in the call to be an agent of change.

I remember the relief and happiness I felt when my kids came to live with me. I remember the feeling of peaceful confidence when Heidi and I got married. Confidence that this was a gift from God and that this relationship was right.

I remember the last day I worked. I made presentation to members of a Senate Committee. I remember the energy it took not to fall apart. I remember my psychiatrist asking me (Two days later), "What is God telling you about your job?" I remember responding with conviction, "I'm done!"

There are so many more memories than I can possibly list here.

Most importantly I remember the countless times God protected me and kept me safe when I did stupid and ridiculously dangerous things (I did many of those. Kept him busy).

I remember the healing  felt when I got baptized.

I remember God providing for me when I had nothing and didn't know how I was going to pay my rent, put gas in my vehicle, or get something to eat.

I remember the many times God revealed his presence to me, comforted me, and gave me peace. I remember him opening doors for me, leading me, and placing incredible people into my life.

I remember when God spoke to me in a psych facility.

God has blessed me richly. I need to remember to praise him daily, talk to him daily, and thank him daily.

Lord, please help me to always remember what you have done for me.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
   yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
   and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Psalm 77; 11-12

1 comment:

  1. "Count your blessings, name them one by one...."
    You are a "blessed man" Horst!
    Thanks for the reminder to remember!