Like all Americans who were old enough to know what was going on, the memory of what happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 has been seared in our minds forever…
I was just out of high school and was working as an elementary school custodian at the time. I arrived at the school that beautiful Tuesday morning at the unholy hour of 5:45 am. I don’t remember much of the early morning that day – it probably involved a lot of Mountain Dew and chocolate donuts, since that was what the custodial staff lived on – but around 8:30 am, I headed for the computer lab to install updates on the 30+ computers there. While I waited for all the updates, I started taking apart a few of the really old machines that had been stacked up to see if there was anything salvageable inside. It was around that time when Pastor Bob (yes, the same guy I work with now – we first worked together at Trinity in St. Joseph) who had been teaching confirmation in the classroom next door poked his head in to tell me to turn on the TV and that a plane had hit the Trade Center. The next minutes were spent glued to the television as I watched in horror with the rest of the world. I tuned in right as the second plane hit. I remember running to the school office to make sure they were aware and then. On my way back, I stopped in the Family Life director’s office where the church office staff – the pastors, secretary’s and everyone else was crowded in. Together, watched the second tower collapse.
After standing there in shock after what we had just witnessed, I remember almost instinctively walking out of the office and into the courtyard where the flagpole was and lowering the flag to half mast. I remember distinctly the mix of feelings, the fear, sorrow and anger as tears welled up in my eyes. The world had just changed and we saw it before our eyes.
It’s been nine years, yet still feels like yesterday.
On this day of remembrance and reflecting, I’m glad that I live in a world that still has heroes. With all the tragedy surrounding the events of September 11, the stories that remain are ones of extreme bravery, self-less heroes and ultimate sacrifices. It’s a sad reality of our fallen and sinful world that events such as 9-11, Pearl Harbor and even the assassination of JFK won’t be the last of their kind. Jesus even mentioned this in one of my favorite bible verses, John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” Even though our world is unstable, there is ONE who is unchanging and I’m glad that he’s in my life.
Today, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the rescue workers and armed forces who daily lay themselves on the line to save and protect people they don’t even know, and also to the families of those affected by the events of 9-11. A lifetime could not erase the pain, let alone just nine short years. My heart goes out to them today.