[This column was first published in the Saturday, Sept. 15, 2001 edition of The Reporter.]

I turned another year older on Wednesday, and thanks to the despicable actions of ungodly terrorists, I will never forget this birthday.

I realize some terrorists claim to be serving a higher power, but it’s not the same god I serve, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ would never grant his blessings upon what our nation witnessed Tuesday, which in my eyes was an act of war.

I’m sure some have said there is no almighty being, because if there is, he wouldn’t have allowed such an act of hatred to occur. But as a born-again Christian, I believe the Holy Bible teaches that the power of choice is the greatest gift Jehovah God has given mankind.

God has, does and will intervene in the affairs of men, but He also allows them to choose whether to follow Him or to reject Him. And with each choice we make, there are consequences, sometimes terrible consequences as we horrifyingly watched unfold on Tuesday.

As the staff of The Reporter furiously worked to publish an extra edition Tuesday filled with photos and stories on local reaction to the premeditated attack on our country, I was gripped by emotions ranging from shock, to sadness to anger.

I thought how dare any organization or nation brazenly inflict such destruction on our mainland, but then I remembered the words of Larry Roberson.

Retired from the Air Force, Larry serves as a deacon at my church. During our discipleship training class Sunday night, Larry said he feared God’s hedge of protection had been removed from America because of its immorality and unrighteousness.

Larry’s words rang in my ears throughout Tuesday as Americans bowed their heads and lifted their prayers to Heaven for the victims, their families, rescue workers and our leaders. It’s a shame it takes such a crisis to make our nation turn its eyes toward God, who truly is our only refuge and strength.

My mother was 5 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She remembers seeing my granddaddy cry for the first time in her life and listening as he told her, “This is the saddest day we’ve ever had in America.”

Granddaddy Hammonds is gone now, but if he were alive, I know he would agree with me that Sept. 11, 2001, is another day that will live in infamy in the history of the greatest nation on earth.

As I tried my best to celebrate a happy birthday, the events of Tuesday reminded me of the things which really matter the most - your soul, your family and friends and your health. When you lose any of those, they can’t be replaced.

May God bless America, heal her wounds and make her strong again. It’s my prayer that future generations will never experience anything similar to Tuesday’s acts of terrorism.

Shannon J. Allen is sports editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at shannon.allen@sandmountainreporter.com.

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