It told the story of how then President George W. Bush was given a port authority badge by the mother of an officer who perished in the attacks. It went on to relate how Bush carried that reminder with him for years into the future in order to help him to “Never Forget” the victims and heroes of that horrific day.
According to an article summarizing the matter, Bush met with families of the victims. One woman, Arlene Howard, approached the president during a Ground Zero visit and gave him a police badge, which had belonged to her son, George Howard, who was an officer for the Port Authority Police Department in New York City.
The article further said that Bush “would always carry it and pull it out to remind people and to remind himself about what happened that day.” In fact, during an address to Congress ten days after the attack, Bush held up Badge 1012 as a symbol of all those who had lost their life.
In that speech, he stated: “And I will carry this. It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended and a task that does not.”
It seems that President Bush is not the only one who vowed to remember Officer Howard. The official site of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association hosts a memorial to him. He wasn't officially working on September 11, 2001. He had the day off; but heard about the attacks and immediately went down to the World Trade Center to help in any way that he could.
And what is more, that was not the first time Howard had responded to an emergency at the World Trade Center. When the site was bombed in 1993, it was none other than Officer Howard who responded and was credited with saving several lives. He was off duty on that day, as well.
Other than the photos of the event unfolding that very day, perhaps the most iconic moment of 09/11 happened three days later when President Bush stood atop the rubble with a bullhorn and boldly declared to the rescuers shouting “U.S.A.”: “I can hear you! I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
“He stood on a crushed fire engine and spoke about fear, hope and sadness,” the President’s chief of staff said. “He spoke to every single person.”
As I reflected ion these things, I have been reminded of Mordecai’s statement to Queen Esther (in chapter 4, verse 4 of the Old Testament book named for her): “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
On more than one occasion, President Bush has indicated that the events of 09/11, as much as anything else, helped him to appreciate and understand exactly why he had been chosen to be President. His task was made clear to him from that day forward. As he stated of the badge in his pocket, it was to remind him “lives that ended and a task that does not”.
Ministers understand this. In a very real sense, they know that their purpose is directly related to the story of a life that ended in sacrifice on behalf of others, and the unending task of telling that story to others.
While few are called to be ministers, and even fewer to be the President of the United States and the de facto leader of the free world, we all still need an overriding purpose in life. With one, our lives are sure to be more productive and meaningful. Without one, the opposite is more apt to be true.
I hope you know your purpose. I hope you know why you came “into the kingdom”. If not, I pray you will discover these very things. And I wish you the best as you then seek to fulfill whatever that God given purpose is.