The moment I heard, I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, where I was going; it’s one of the rare times a memory can still reduce me to tears. It was the day the date “9/11” became more than just a day, it became a reference point, a word synonymous with the loss of an America that once was, the end of the innocence in believing that it couldn’t happen here, on our own soil.
I was a few blocks from work, stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Wilson Dam Road and Avalon Avenue, listening to the radio when they broke the news that a plane had flown into the North Twin Tower of the World Trade Center. In my mind, a small four-seater had somehow managed to hit the building, and that the folks on the small plane surely didn’t survive.
Shortly after I arrived at my desk, my husband called and said two planes had flown into the Twin Towers. I argued a little with him, refusing to believe, but fearful that it was true, that there were two jets instead of one small plane. By then, co-workers were gathering into the conference room, glued to the TV; I joined them. I remember a feeling of sheer helplessness and terror as I learned that yet another plane had flown into the Pentagon. I went back to my office, shut the door, and tried to pray. I remember being just frantic enough to only be able to pace back and forth saying, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus…” Going back to the conference room, I watched in horror with my co-workers as the South Tower collapsed. I asked the others in the room if the people in the tower would have had time to get out. They sadly told me what I didn’t want to hear…they wouldn’t have had time. I learned later that yet another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, not yet knowing of the heroic efforts of the passengers on board that flight.
When the mission was completed, the pusillanimous deeds that day caused a total of 2,996 deaths, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims: 246 on the four planes, 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. A total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they tried to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department lost 341 firefighters and 2 paramedics. The New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers. Eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics from private emergency medical services units were also killed. (figures from Wikipedia)
Sept 11, 2001, was the first day I remember ever hearing the name, “Osama Bin Laden.” Even now, these many years later, the term “9/11” conjures up the same event for most everyone, though varying emotions are attached to the memories what transpired that day. But for a brief period of time, America showed solidarity. Party lines were crossed, reporters openly wept, God was in our lives, the Bible had a place in our conversation, Old Glory was proudly flown. For a fleeting moment, we came together, stopped criticizing those who believed differently; we shared tender moments with complete strangers; having no words, yet understanding the silence of what we each couldn’t say.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)