08 Sep A Word From Dr. Satterly—September 8, 2022
Dear WA Community,
This Sunday marks the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks against our nation. While it is difficult to fully understand the impact of 9/11 on our culture, each of us bears its mark. Perhaps buoyed by the rallying cry of “Never Forget” or inspired by the accounts of remarkable courage, dedication, and heroism, the memories of that day and those that followed are forever seared in our conscience. All of this is captured by the memorial in New York City, a trip that is worth every American’s time. On Sunday, the families of those lost will gather to read aloud their names as a way of honoring their memory and to help us remember.
As poignant as 9/11 is to our current context, history is filled with many other similar events. Just looking at our own great nation, we need not look far to find December 7, 1941, “A day which will live in infamy.” At one time, that day carried significant cultural weight. But with the passing of the greatest generation and in our contemporary context, it has faded into more of a memory than a cultural influence. Yet, we have erected memorials to commemorate that event and its aftermath. The Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, specifically marks December 7, and Washington, D.C., contains several that depict the sacrifice of World War II.
More broadly, we have established holidays, Memorial Day, for example, built statues and monuments, and created ceremonies to help us recall both the accounts of sacrifice and the significance of historical events and extraordinary people. Sometimes we need to visit them to jog our memories. While the list of these special places is long, I’ll take this opportunity to commend one of them to you—Arlington National Cemetery. Every American ought to spend a day there.
At this point, we may be compelled to consider the reasons why we tend to build memorials and the like. Certainly, we are inspired by heroic tales and accounts of sacrifice. This is so because they resonate in our souls because each contains an echo of Eden, that Divine spark unique to mankind. We also note that the biblical narrative is replete with ceremonies, memorials, and holidays. God establishes these in order to distinguish His people. We erect, build, and create because that is how God made us.
While we each bear the image of the creator, that image is deeply flawed. As a result, we are prone to wander away from the things that matter most. We forget the things of the Lord and instead turn to the world and things that do not and cannot give life. As significant as 9/11 is to our contemporary context, the reality of Christ and His impact on the world is too often ignored, forgotten, or understated. We need help remembering. As necessary and appropriate as it may be for us to remember our national citizenship, we must remember that our citizenship extends beyond the borders of America. We are foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God.
At the core of Christian schooling lies the shaping of worldview. In a sense, this means establishing markers, ceremonies, and memorials in hearts and minds so that we not only remember but act according to the reality that every square inch is the Lord’s. We teach our children so that they will know and understand and, in turn, teach their children. We want them to be known and loved in order that they can know and love. This is the heart of Westminster Academy and as we remember 9/11 and what it means, let that point us to something even greater.
To God be the Glory!
Dr. Joel Satterly