Saturday, September 10, 2011

Memories of 9/11


When I was a kid, I would hear adults talk about "Where were you when...?", usually in reference to the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. Since I had not been born, it was really hard for me to grasp the significance of that question and the answers that followed. The day of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, I got a bit of a glimpse into the magnitude of such an event. (I had just come home from school, turned on the TV, and saw the coverage, as the shooting had occurred just moments before.)

But nothing prepared me (or anyone else in our country--or world, for that matter) for September 11, 2001. It is etched in my memory forever.

We were living in northern Michigan at the time. My husband, who pastored a small church there, had left for Missouri two days before, as he was taking a week-long class down there. That Tuesday morning, I drove our oldest son to school--his second week of kindergarten had just begun. After returning home, I got busy with the usual "mom work" of the day (laundry, caring for our 2 yr. old, etc.). I didn't usually turn on the TV, but decided to turn on the CBS Morning News. A reporter was standing in the foreground, with a burning building behind him. He was letting everyone know that, just a few minutes before, a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. I remembered there had been a bomb there a few years before. I immediately called my husband. He was staying with my cousin and her family. When she answered the phone, I said, "Do you guys have your TV on?" She said no, and wondered why I asked? I said, "I don't really know what all is going on, but a plane just hit one of the big buildings in New York. Something is really wrong."

She put my husband on the phone. As we began talking and speculating about what could be happening, we saw the second plane hit the other tower. To say we were shocked is a major understatement. Then, of course, this was followed by reports of other plane incidents. Later, all airports in the country would be shutdown, as authorities were trying to prevent any more crashes from occurring.

As soon as we hung up, the phone began ringing. People from our church were calling, crying, asking what we should do. It was determined very early on that we were going to have an all-church prayer meeting that night.

What I wanted to do in the midst of all that chaos: go to the school and get my young son, and have him home safe and sound with me. Just huddle in our little apartment, away from the awful events occurring around us. I also wanted my husband home, but that wasn't possible. What I really did: left my son at school--away from the turmoil, and happily oblivious in the midst of kindergarten life--while I sat in front of the TV for hours on end, crying and praying, and trying to make sense of what was happening.

Our church prayer meeting that night opened with my husband calling, and praying for our nation and church via the telephone. It was quite comforting to know that similar prayer meetings were taking place all over the United States, and literally around the world, as other nations joined to pray for us.

I have seen websites and blogs today, in which the bloggers and writers clearly state: We will never forget or FORGIVE. I cannot echo that sentiment. No, I will never forget. That day forever changed our nation and the way we view our national and personal security. It reminded us all that "we never know when the end will come," so we should make the most of every day. It was a wake-up call: never fail to tell your family members how much you love them. It was also a reminder that we need to pray.

But not to forgive? To me, that is, in essence, giving up. It is as if we are saying, "Evil will always prevail, and I don't have to forgive anyone who does me wrong." I believe that things can change, and that GOD always prevails!

The key is that we, as a nation, cannot stop praying! The time for prayer didn't end when the search for the lost was called off at Ground Zero. It didn't end when a memorial was set up in Pennsylvania. It didn't end when the Pentagon was repaired. It won't end until Jesus returns.

Today, I pray especially for those left behind. For the children growing up without mothers/fathers. For the spouses left behind to raise children alone. For parents who lost children. For coworkers who will forever wonder, "Why was I late (or sick) that day, and wasn't at my desk when this all transpired? Why me?" For friends and neighbors who lost people very dear to them. For the FDNY and New York police department, which both suffered astounding losses. The list goes on and on. I pray for them all.

And I pray...never again, dear Lord. Please, never again.

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