Firefighter Donald Herbert was trapped in the collapse of a burning building in 1995. Since the accident his condition has been described as being close to “a persistent vegetative state.” He appeared to be awake, but was unaware of what was going on around him.
In February of this year, his physician, Dr. Jamil Ahmed, changed his medicine. On May 4, Donald Herbert suddenly regained consciousness and asked for his wife.
Mr. Herbert thought it had been a couple of months since the accident. He found out it had been much longer, when at his request, a member of the nursing home staff called the Herbert house, and Donald's youngest son answered the phone.
Mr. Herbert said, “He's just a baby. He can't talk!”
Nicholas, who is 13, was only three when his father was hurt.
In the last decade, Mr. Herbert's favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, has been to the playoffs four times, and the world has become dependent on cell phones and e-mail. But that hardly describes the scope of what he has missed.
In 1995, the year of Mr. Herbert's accident, Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and, with the help of Terry Nichols, detonated explosives that killed 168 people.
In 1996, the Leggett-Myers Tobacco Company was fined $10 million for selling a known killer.
The Heaven's Gate cult committed mass suicide in 1997. The first Harry Potter novel was released that year, and Scottish scientists produced “Dolly,” a cloned sheep.
In 1998, William Jefferson Clinton became the second American president to be impeached.
In 1999, the world worried about the Y2K bug.
In 2000, the “Love Bug,” a computer virus, hit 45,000,000 computers worldwide.
September 11, 2001.
Kmart and WorldCom both filed for bankruptcy in 2002.
In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas, killing Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon. Iraq was invaded by “a coalition of the willing,” toppling Saddam Hussein's murderous government.
The Passion of the Christ drew millions of viewers to theaters in 2004 as Mel Gibson defied logic, the movie industry, and his critics to present the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Imagine awakening with no knowledge of September 11. The images which flood your mind when you read that date would not be there. There would be no airplanes crashing into buildings, no flames exploding from the structures, no horrific collapses, and 3,000 people would not have been killed.
Imagine awakening without the knowledge that the President of the United States lied under oath, not knowing what “is is.”
Imagine awakening and not knowing that a second Space Shuttle disaster had killed seven additional astronauts.
Imagine awakening and not knowing that American terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had murdered 168 of us.
For all of us old enough to remember 1995, those events, and more, are indelibly imprinted on our memories. Unless an accident, like the one that struck Donald Herbert, or a disease like Alzheimer's, strikes us, we are condemned to remember the bad and, for that matter, the good.
What would it be like to wake up and not remember the evil that you had done, the people you had hurt, the sins you had committed? What would you pay for a little selective amnesia?
What is impossible for you and I, is possible with the Lord God Almighty. He will forget any sins you confessed to him, and he has paid for that forgetfulness with the blood of his only Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
God told Jeremiah, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)
To not remember the last ten years is unimaginable. To know that our sins are not remembered is more than that. It is a free gift, received by faith. What are you waiting for?
(David Sisler's newspaper column, “Not For Sunday Only,” is in its 16th year of regular publication. Not for Sunday only is based on news events, sports, popular songs, motion pictures and personal glimpses. The message is: the Christian faith is an everyday happening it is not for Sunday only. The columns are thoroughly researched, and never indicate denominational bias. For reprint permission, or to subscribe to Not For Sunday Only, contact Mr. Sisler.)