I was going to just post a link back to this post, but as I read over it, I felt I wanted to post the whole things again.
(Originally posted 9/11/06)
I used to volunteer at my sons’ school every Tuesday. On that particular Tuesday morning in September, a little after 9 a.m., I turned on the car radio to catch a bit of news on my way to the school. I was confused at first — I could tell something serious had happened, but couldn’t make out what. Finally the newscaster explained that an airplane had hit the World Trade Tower. I was stunned. I sat in the parking lot at the school and listened to the news coverage for a few minutes. Then I went into the school office, with the words, “Did you hear…?” on my lips. They had heard and someone had set up a TV in the office. Many of us stood, motionless, stunned, shocked, and watched the coverage. We thought we couldn’t be any more stunned — then we saw footage of a second plane hitting the other tower. Then we saw people leaping out of windows to try to escape. Then we saw the first tower collapse.
I don’t remember how long I stayed there. The function that I usually helped with was canceled for the day. Several parents came to pick their children up and take them home: they just wanted to have them near. The principal had a TV set up in the gym for those students and teachers who wanted to watch the coverage. I think most of the high school classes were canceled and students could either watch the coverage in the gym or study quietly in one of the classrooms.
For the rest of the day and the next several days, with most of the country, I was almost glued to the TV as more news came in and pieces of the puzzle came to light. I clicked on news sources online and read coverage and looked at pictures in magazines.
There are several things I remember from that time:
- Feeling in shock.
- Feelings of vulnerability.
- Feelings of horror that anyone could do such a thing to other people.
- Feelings of fear, wondering if this was but the beginning of a larger effort, of a war.
- Feelings of empathy with those who had died, those who had lost loved ones, those in parts of the world for whom terrorism is an almost everyday occurrence.
- A feeling of unity in our country that I had never experienced in my lifetime. That is one thing I miss.
- Feelings of…awe? gratefulness? wonder? inspiration? I am struggling with the right word to express what I felt on hearing the stories of heroism, of bravery, of decency.
- Feelings of more joy upon hearing the stories of so many who unexpectedly missed flights or were late to work at the towers.
- Feelings of comfort as the Lord ministered to hearts afterward.
Regarding that last item, one of the young men in my sons’ youth group shared this verse with the teens, I believe that first Wednesday afterward:
Isaiah 25:4: For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
How that ministered to my heart! I shared it with many loved ones via e-mail. There is only one true Refuge.
The question has come to many a mind, “Why did God allow it?” I don’t know that we’ll have the answer until time is over and we are with Him. But, surely we don’t mean why did God allow that to happen to us? We’re such a blessed nation, even in the state of spiritual forgetfulness and indifference we are in now — do we think we’re exempt from the troubles many nations experience daily? This was of a greater magnitude, yes, but many countries face the possibility of car bombs and suicide bombers every day. Then we get into the larger question of why God allows evil at all. All I know is that He allows for us to have and exercise a free will, and that results in sin, because we all choose our own way over His all too often. There will be a time when “sin shall be no more,” when every tear shall be wiped away and there shall be no more sorrow, sadness, death, crying (Revelation 21:4). That time is not yet. Until then we have to deal with a fallen world. But those who love God have this promise:
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
It is at the point of deep need that we learn the truth of that verse and others. We know it so well it almost become cliched to us, until we truly need it.
One of the “good things” to come out of 9/11 was the salvation of one of my son’s friends. He realized that life can end suddenly and unexpectedly and that he needed to be ready.
There are some who think we should remember 9/11 only with silence, who feel that replaying and reliving the events of that day only plays into the hands of the terrorists, inspiring more terror. I disagree. I can understand those for whom it might be too painful to reflect on much, but I disagree that we’re playing into the hands of the terrorists by remembering that day. It’s good to remember. We need to remember the fallen, to memorialize them. We need to remember those whom they left behind. We even need to remember our vulnerability. Psalm 9:20 says “Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” I can’t presume to say that that was one of God’s purposes for allowing this, but we do need to remember that we are “but men” (or women) even though we’re a “superpower.” We need to remember that “The horse [or the fighter pilot or the tank or whatever we might use in warfare] is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31). We need to remember the empathy, the inspiration, the acts of courage.
My husband and I were saying yesterday morning that we wished they would do away with the Labor Day observance and instead have a 9/11 observance. But then we thought that, after a while, it would just be another Monday holiday. It would seem the height of disrespect to turn it into another day for retailers to have sales. I wonder if WWII veterans are horrified that Memorial Day and Veterans Day, beyond the occasional parade and wreath-laying ceremonies, are regarded by most people as an opportunity to be off work and go to the mall. May we as a country remember all of our fallen better than that.