When Mike asked me last month if I wanted to go to the BYU - Air Force Academy football game I felt his forehead to see if he had a fever. We are not big sports fans. Spending most of a Saturday in traffic, and then in a noisy, crowded stadium full of people who (at least for the moment) hinge their happiness and reason for living on the outcome of a game is not even on our long list of "Oh Gee! I sure would like to do this on Saturday". But a large group of our friends was planning on going, and they invited us to carpool. We decided it would be a nice way to spend time with them. We both graduated from BYU, so that gave us a little bit of a connection to the event.
For those not aware of this, the drive from Lakewood to Colorado Springs is gorgeous. And we were in great company. The many tailgate parties, alumni tents, and carnival atmosphere in the parking lots around the stadium provided us some entertainment, just not the same kind as those who were participating. We got to visit with good friends for several hours, and we got to see how a part of the Air Force Academy culture works. At each game there is a fly over, a demonstration of the flying skills of their very impressive mascot (a real trained falcon), several performances of their marching band and drum line, and huge flag display. Each time Air Force scored, dozens of cadets would run down to the end zone and do synchronized push-ups for each point scored.
Okay, let me just get this part out of the way. We only stood and sang "Rise and Shout!" (the Cougar Fight song) twice. The last time the cadets ran down on the field to do their group push-ups, they had to do 35, one for each of the points scored by Air Force. Glad my mood does not depend on the outcome of that game.
But there was something else about Saturday. It was the ninth anniversary of 9/11. There was a special marching formation and flag ceremony before the game. We stood and had a moment of silence to remember victims of that day. Even though they are not mentioned, I think many of us also remember the hundreds of thousands of victims, living and dead, since that day. Then the honorary game captains were introduced. We stood to honor them. One is on the New York Police Force, was on duty on 9/11, has served several tours of duty overseas. The other is a New York fire fighter and was on duty on 9/11. One of his brothers was killed when the North Tower collapsed, another brother was killed when the South Tower collapsed.
That is the Stand and Weep part of the day.
I do not support the wars we are fighting overseas, but I support and appreciate the soldiers and families who are fighting.
I mourn for those who suffered loss and continue to suffer due to the horrific events of 9/11. Those include people from all over the world, from many cultures and religions, who were there on that day. And those who know and love the ones who were there. And those from all over the world who have suffered loss from the actions taken since that day.
I have no objection to the Mosque that is planned to be built a few blocks (not on or next to but a few blocks) from Ground Zero. I don't think the attacks on 9/11 were a Muslim action any more than I think that burning crosses on a lawn, or lynching people, or the Oklahoma City Bombing are Christian actions. These are the actions of terrorists and extremists, and they come from every culture and country. They are the antithesis of the core beliefs of every major religion.
So, among other things, I stand and weep. Because, as a practicing Mormon, I have promised to mourn with those that mourn, and help others carry their burdens, and follow the example of Christ in looking for how we are all a part of each other, and forgive and seek forgiveness even when it is hard.
On Saturday, even in the midst of crowds and noise and traffic, it was not hard.