As I reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, I am still awed by the sheer devastation that occurred in such a brief time. I will never forget where I was and what I was doing that morning. I was at Bowie Middle School in Amarillo, TX, and I had just finished teaching my 2nd period class. The principal come over the speaker and told teachers and students that although a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Tower, they should turn their TVs off and continue as if it were a normal day. That was the first I had heard of the tragedy. It was my conference period, so I walked over to turn on my TV and as I did, I remember thinking, “What could have happened that caused some small, single-engine, two-passenger Cessna to crash into the World Trade Tower?” Little did I know that not only had a huge passenger jet been intentionally flown into the building, but that another jet had crashed into the other tower, another had crashed into the Pentagon, and still another had been a failed attempt at the White House!
The images of the smoke billowing from the first tower and of the second plane as it crashed into its target are forever burned in my mind. I will always remember the hordes of people fleeing the wreckage amid falling debris while emergency crews were desperately running toward the danger. I remember thinking, “This cannot be happening. How could this happen in America?” I remember people all across our great land wondering for days if their spouse, son, daughter, mother, father, aunt or uncle had made it out safely.
I remember, although never having been a fan of the David Letterman Show, watching his first broadcast which was aired six days after the attack. It was a somber event. Letterman struggled to fight back tears as he tried to make sense of the ruin that had consumed the great city of New York. He is quoted as saying, “If we are going to continue to do shows I just need to hear myself talk for a couple of minutes and so that’s what I’m going to do here. We are going to try to feel our way through this and we’ll just see how it goes — take it a day at a time.” The world as we knew it had ended. A new day had begun and we had to learn how to live again.
I remember churches all across the nation holding prayer vigils and people of all religions and those who, until that time, did not claim a religion came together to ask for God’s guidance, peace, comfort, understanding. For a moment, however brief, the entire nation and much of the rest of the world looked to faith in God as their help.
I have been fortunate to visit the site of the World Trade Towers twice since then. It is a humbling experience to say the least. To think that someone would hate Americans so much as to destroy the lives of so many innocent people. There were, of course, the immediate victims; those who were on board one of the jets and those who were inside the buildings at the time of the attack. Then there were all of the family members of those who lost their lives…their lives have been forever changed through the absence of their loved ones. And, we cannot forget the first responders; the firefighters and police officers and civilian “good Samaritans” who sacrificed their own lives to try to save as many as they could.
So much has changed since the attacks of 9-11. This year marks the tenth anniversary of one of the worst attacks that has ever occurred on American soil. All across the nation, people are remembering and commemorating this solemn day. There are families who will again mourn the loss of loved ones. There are civic and religious organizations that will hold ceremonies honoring those who fought courageously to save those in peril while grieving all those who fell. I join the masses in thanking all of those who serve as firefighters, peace officers, military and medical personnel for giving of yourselves for the sake of our freedom and safety.
I thank God that he has granted me the opportunity to live in the greatest nation known to man. I pray earnestly that we, as a nation, will allow Him back into our lives; our classrooms, our courtrooms, our government offices. I pray that we will realize that it is He who has provided this nation to us and that unless we, as a people, regard Him as holy and sovereign, He will cease to protect us. May we ever honor Him and desire Him and seek His face.
God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you, be gracious,
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.