Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary

Before September draws to a close, I wanted to tell you a story of deliverance on 9/11. It is the untold tale of how the 500,000 people stranded on Lower Manhattan on that horrible day were saved. In just nine hours, a fleet of ferry boats and ordinary citizens’ private boats evacuated them to safety. Some would call this a miracle. I call it an amazing example of selflessness. Ordinary people did what they could to help. It wasn’t supernatural; but it’s far from usual. It was extraordinary.

(For some reason, this blog is not letting me add the link for you to see a video about this, narrated by Tom Hanks. If you go to YouTube, just type in "Boatlift, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience," and you can watch this inspiring video.)

The boatlift on 9/11 reminded me of one of my favorite events in history, called the Miracle of Dunkirk. During World War II, British and French troops were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, France. They were cut off by the German army, about to perish or be captured. King George VI (the stuttering king from "The King’s Speech" fame) called for an unprecedented week of prayer. The Archbishop of Canterbury led prayers for "our soldiers in dire peril." British citizens, already war-weary, fell on their knees to join their hearts in asking God to help their countrymen and then put feet to those prayers. Ordinary people in 850 ordinary fishing boats, life rafts, and pleasure crafts responded immediately to help.The “little ships of Dunkirk” rescued 345,000 soldiers, shuttling them across the English Channel during the days from May 26 until June 3, 1940. Winston Churchill later called the rescue the Miracle of Deliverance.

The people stranded on Lower Manhattan were also in dire peril. And it was also ordinary people who came to rescue them, doing the extraordinary.


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