Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11: Lest We Forget

On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the massive terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, I thought I'd be remiss to not pay tribute to the thousands of men and women, boys and girls that lost their lives that day. On one hand I can hardly believe it has been ten years since that fateful day. On the other hand, it feels like a mere mist of a memory -- something that happened eons ago.

A decade later I can still vividly remember what I was doing on that day. Not yet born when President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated, I don't have any memories of what my parents often discussed. I'd hear them say, "I'll never forget where I was when I heard President Kennedy was killed," and "I can distinctly remember what I was doing when Dr. King was murdered." Prior to 9/11, I didn't have any memories like these. I do now.

In January 2001, Anthony and I moved to Franklin, Tennessee for him to join the pastoral staff at Strong Tower Bible Church. That August, we were planning to send our firstborn Kalin to prekindergarten at New Hope Academy, a wonderful Christian private school in Franklin. New Hope had been building a new school building, and as building projects often go, the building wasn't completed by the start of school in August. So the start date of school had to be pushed forward to -- you guessed -- September 11.

Still in shock over the thought of my only baby (at the time) starting school, and probably fighting tears, I sang along with the praise songs during devotions that morning. I remember singing "Open The Eyes of My Heart Lord" with my friend Andrea, a New Hope teacher at the time, leading. I remember the beautiful faces of the children of different races and socio-economic backgrounds as they sang along, hopeful for a great school year. None of us had any idea what the day would hold.

At some point during devotions, the Headmaster marched to the front of the library and explained that there had been a horrible accident in New York City. One of the Twin Towers had been hit by an airplane, he explained, while gasps filled the air around me. At that point we thought the airplane had somehow experienced some kind of malfunction, causing it to detour away from its course and into the tower. We formed a large circle and had prayer for those that had already lost their lives, and we prayed for the city of New York. We didn't know to pray for our whole country.

School administrators decided to continue on with the first day of school, and we parents filed out of the building one by one. I remember experiencing an eerie feeling of shock, confusion, fear and sadness. My brain tried to wrap around exactly what was going on.

That question was answered very soon after we returned back home. Every channel now had footage of the planes diving into both Twin Towers. And then we watched in horror as each Tower crumbled to the ground like giant ant hills. It didn't seem real.

At some point during the day, I thought back to the prior Sunday, when Anthony had preached at Strong Tower. His title was "Don't Ask Why, Ask What." He preached about our human nature that causes us to question God when we face hardships in life, inquiring, "God, why me?" He encouraged us to pull ourselves away from the painful questions of "Why," moving instead to the question of "What?" What does God want to do in me? What does He want to do through me? How will He use this trial to demonstrate His power in and through my life?

We had no idea how prophetic Anthony had been just two days before 9/11. In our pain over the country's huge loss, most of us were asking "Why, God?" Yet, the exhortation to ask "What" moved us into action: praying for comfort for those that had lost loved ones, praying for unbelievers around the U.S. to seek the True and Living God and seeking ways to minister to those directly affected by the attack.

Ten years later, it still hurts to think of that day and the thousands of lost lives. Ten years later, I still cringe when I watch a film from the nineties that pans the city of New York with those Twin Towers standing proud and tall. Ten years later, I feel a sense of foreboding over the possible terrorists threats on this Sunday that every news reporter's talking about.

And then I inhale. I exhale. And I hear my Savior say, "Be still, and know that I am God." He's got this. No matter what happens. No matter how dark a day we may face as a country. I'm reminded of the song I sang as a little girl, long before I knew Jesus as my savior -- "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands."

He really does.

Safe In His Hands,



  1. I was in the hospital in Stamford, CT post call. I was a new OB/GYN resident and had been up all night. Selfishly I wanted to go home, I was exhausted. When the first tower was hit, our hospital (about 40 miles from NY city) was put on alert. All physicians were ordered to stay in house. They expected an overflow of patients from the city-I heard they were going to use the trains to bring patients to us. Stamford is an affluent area in CT and many of the nurses and patients had spouses who worked in New York. It was a hard time for everyone. They ended up letting me go home because I was post call. They told me to be ready to come back, but when the towers fell, we quickly realized that there were not going to be an influx of the injured. It was a day that changed everything.

  2. I remember where I was too. I had gotten to school early (as I usually did) and one of my 12 year old students told me what was happening. He thought it was some sort of television show with special effects. A strange feeling came over me and we turned on the television in my classroom. We watched in horror as we both realized that it was real and purposeful. I began to think at that moment how desensitized we are by images...We are definitely safe in His arms Carla. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Wow Valerie. What a somber thought -- there were few injuries because of the instant fatalities. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Susann, we are so desensitized by media, but I also think our minds couldn't fully wrap around the reality of horror. Thanks for sharing your story.