First Things First

Tragedy and Change

July 16, 2015 is a day people in Chattanooga and beyond are not likely forget. Five men died when a single gunman opened fire on unarmed military personnel at two different locations.

In the aftermath, many of us glued ourselves to televisions and social media for hours, unable to pull 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.

Additionally, people at ballparks 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 probably hugged their children and each other tighter. Many vowed to do some things differently, recognizing that their family could have been 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 the 9/11 attacks on America? Many of the same things occurred. Religious institutions were full or 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 already knew that tomorrow might never come and some were changed forever, complacency set in before long. Too many slowly forgot 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. Eventually, 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 focus on our priorities and keep our course. 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 like the end result.

The world changed on July 16. An armed man killed five servicemen and wounded two others. Hundreds of thousands of lives in Chattanooga and elsewhere are facing the harsh reality about the world in which we live. So, 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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