Anniversaries are interesting. For most, they are joyous. For many, they are painful. Regardless the emotions they evoke, anniversaries are reminders.

September 11, 2001, will always and forever be remembered, at least in most Americans’ minds, as a day when everything changed. Alan Jackson put it like this in his song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?”

It changed us in a way that still causes us to often look at a particular group of people with suspicion, if not actual fear and hatred. Vicious attacks and our memory of them are a combination that breeds contempt and it takes a lot to overcome it.

For those who continue to grieve personal loss from that fateful day in 2001, my heart is filled with sympathy. I pray that God’s healing grace continues to flow to you in gentle and reassuring waves.

September 11, 2010, is a date we remember in our family for completely different reasons. In the late afternoon of an unusually warm and humid day in Alabama our middle son, Brian, married Ashley Foster. Suddenly and sweetly September 11 could also be remembered as a day when love, not hate, ruled the day.

Brian had asked his younger brother, Austin, to be his best man. In the history of best man speeches, Austin’s will go down as one of the best I ever heard.

Comedian that he is, Austin opened by saying (this is a paraphrase based on my memory), “When Brian told me they were getting married on September 11, I said ‘For real? You know what happened on September 11 a few years ago, right? Are you serious?’”

He said a couple of other funny things with a nod to his older brothers. And then he looked at Brian and Ashley and said, “We’ll always know about the attacks on September 11, 2001 and where we were as we watched buildings crumble and fall. But because of what’s happening here today, we can also remember this date for something else.”

Austin closed with something to the effect of, “Hate can bring buildings to rubble on the ground, but true love is different. True love like we see in Brian and Ashley tells us that nothing can tear love down no matter what comes its way!”

So, today’s a day of remembering.

For few million people in Florida, September 11, 2017, will be the day they woke up and knew that although things looked bad, they’ll know it could have been even worse.

For thousands of family members, they’ll remember this day in 2001 and the loved ones they lost and the first responders who lost their own lives trying to save others. They’ll remember that although time doesn’t actually heal all wounds, time does bring the perspective that life is still available to them and should be lived with purpose.

For our family, we’ll remember that Brian and Ashley stood before God and the rest of us and said they’d love each other with a “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, till death do us part,” kind of love that even terror cannot tear down.

Love is a curious thing. It’s more a choice than an emotion, but the choice to love brings a kind of sentiment that will stand the test of time.

Whatever you’re remembering today, choose to love those dearest to you with all your heart. If you’re feeling adventurous, choose to have a heart of love for others as well.

Finally, never forget that the God who created you is for you and with you and is deeply interested in redeeming all the days, whether filled with joy or pain, of your life. Remembering this is as important as anything you will ever remember.