First Things First

Tragedy and Change

July 16, 2015 is a day people in Chattanooga and beyond are not likely forget. It’s the day a single gunman opened fire on unarmed military personnel at two different locations; five died.

Many of us were glued to televisions and social media for hours, unable to pull ourselves away from the unfolding story. One man brought flowers to one of the shooting sites, leading to the creation of a memorial in which thousands of people came to show their support and grieve the loss of five men who literally gave their lives serving our country.

People at ballfields nationwide participated in a moment of silence for the victims and their families. Cities flew their flags at half-staff. People flocked to prayer services. Moms and dads hugged their children and each other tighter and vowed to do some things differently, recognizing it could have been their family that was shattered that day. Thousands donated blood in honor of those who lost their lives protecting our freedom. The outpouring of love and caring was incredible.

Do you remember when America was attacked on 9/11? Many of the same things occurred. Religious institutions were filled to overflowing. Parents hugged their children and talked about changing their priorities in order to spend more time with their loved ones. Couples thought about how much they had taken their relationship for granted. People in general were kinder to each other. The horrible event brought out the best in people.

Although people had experienced the reality that tomorrow might never come and some people were changed forever, it didn’t take long for many to become complacent and lulled into forgetting about the changes they vowed to make. Over the course of three short months, people gradually went back to living life as they had pre-9/11. Perfecting the golf swing was more important than spending time with the kids. Getting that urgent task finished at the office took precedence over a dinner date with their spouse. Watching the end of a favorite sitcom made parents miss tucking their kids in for the night, and the list goes on.

Horrific events jolt people out of their routine and into remembering what really matters in life. Tragedy has a way of not only bringing people closer together, but bringing out the best in all of us. How sad would it be for people to become complacent?

As time passes, we need to vigilantly remind each other to keep our priorities in front of us and not get caught up in the moment. There are many influences tugging on couples and families. It is important to determine what your family truly values. If you don’t know what is important to you, the world will tell you — and you may not be pleased with the end result.

The world changed on July 16. Five servicemen were killed and two others are recovering from their wounds. The lives of hundreds of thousands in Chattanooga and beyond have been jolted by a harsh reality about the world in which we live. How will you move forward living life to the fullest, making sure the lives lost defending our freedom were not in vain?

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