There are particular days that will be indelibly etched upon our minds, certain events that we experience that touch our lives so deeply that we forever will remember where we were, what we were doing, who was with us, and how we felt. Some events were personally experienced by us and a few other people, while other events were experienced in our respective country, or perhaps world-wide. Depending upon when you were born those nation specific or world-wide events may differ, but I would venture to guess that at least one of those events have already popped into your mind right now.
For my parents and grandparents I would say that one specific instance would be the date, December 7, 1941 “a date that will live in infamy” when the empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and formally ushered the United States of America fully and officially into World War II.
There’s a day that that is forever etched upon my thoughts and heart, and that is September 11, 2001 – when the face of pure evil attacked, and took the lives of thousands of innocent people in my beloved country of the United States of America. And in an instant, a moment of time our nation, and perhaps even the entire world – what we knew and what we held certain was forever changed. That date will eternally be remembered as the day when terrorist attacks inflected the costliest tragedy ever on American soil. It’s a date where not only did we lose military, police, and firefighters, but we lost the lives of nearly 3,000 people who were fathers, sons, grandparents, mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, cousins, and friends in those fateful attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We lost some innocence that day. We became aware that our homeland was no longer safe, or off-limits to those kind of senseless terrorist attacks that occurred frequently in countries like Israel.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001. At 8:46 a.m., Eastern time, American Airlines flight 11, with 92 passengers and crew, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines flight 175, with 65 on board crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:40 a.m., American Airlines flight 77, carrying 64 people from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, crashes into the Pentagon. Trading on Wall Street called off. At 9:48 a.m., the U.S. Capital building and West Wing of the White House are evacuated. At 9:49 a.m., the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration orders an unprecedented shutdown of all airline traffic in the nation. At 9:58 a.m. an emergency dispatcher in Pennsylvania receives a call from a passenger on United flight 93, who says “We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!” At 9:59 a.m. the south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. At 10:00 a.m. United flight 93, bound for San Francisco with 44 on board, changes course towards Washington D.C., the passengers valiantly fought back against the terrorists and forced the plane to crash in a field in Shanksville, PA, 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. At 10:29 a.m. the north tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
The nation was transfixed. We watched the news feeds in shock as they played video of the massive airliners plowing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on Manhattan Island, and also in absolute horror as those towers came down. Pictures of the damage at the Pentagon are also shown as the media scrambles to find out the latest information.
In light of the attacks businesses shut down. Everyone went home. At that time, I worked for DTE Energy, the largest electric supplier in the state of Michigan. Concern was expressed about us being in a large building in the large city of Detroit, especially since taking out the electric grid would be an attractive option. No one went to the stores or shopping. The freeways were deserted except for us who were hurrying home. And, the sky went eerily silent for weeks as all private and commercial, domestic and international, flights were cancelled. For those of us who lived in the flight paths around the airport the quiet in the sky was foreign, and it was interrupted only by the sounds of military fighter jets patrolling the area.
Day after day the media showed the desperate attempt of people who flooded into the areas around the devastated sites, or hospitals and medical clinics, holding or posting pictures of loved ones that were missing in a frantic attempt to find them, as they held out hope that their missing loved one would be found alive. As time went on, hope of finding survivors was lost, and the reality set in that the lives of their loved ones were torn from them unexpectedly.
What the terriorists didn’t know was that the attack did not demoralize America like they hoped. Instead what it did was to unite the nation in a way that hadn’t happened since December 7, 1941. For the first time that I can remember, I saw the members of both the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats unite, support President George W. Bush, sing “God Bless America” strongly with one voice, and pray publicly. Never before in my lifetime was there a show of unification like this. In my opinion, President Bush and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani responded brilliantly. They took charge, showed courage, steadfastness, hope, shrewd decision-making and outstanding leadership. “Our country is strong. A great people have been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundation of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America.” President George W. Bush. There was a renewed sense of pride in our country, as nearly every home in neighborhoods across the nation proudly flew the American flag, the stars & stripes were everywhere.
Heroes abounded, as firefighters, police entered into impossible situations and placed their lives in danger in an attempt to stop or lessen the intended carnage. The passengers on United Flight 93 learned the fates of the other three hijacked airliners and decided to foil the plans of the terrorists by attacking the “pilot” and breaking into the cockpit. While they lost their lives, their valiant attempt crashed that airplane and it is speculated that their actions saved either the United States Capital Building or the White House in Washington, D.C. We were in awe of firefighters and police, many of which also gave their very lives to save the lives of others. People generously donated their time – as thousands of people went to New York to volunteer in the rescue attempts. Off-duty Police and Firefighters went to work in the relief effort in New York, while local Firefighters collected funds on street corners to assist. Communities around the nation gave truckloads of water, food, clothing, and whatever else was needed. Truckers donate their time and trucks to take things to the victims, and victim’s families. Thousands of people donated blood.
And in the middle of that horror, we saw a huge surge of people who turned to God looking for answers. Night after night candlelight prayer vigils were held all over the country. Churches and Synagogues were flooded with people in hopes of finding answers. Many people asked “Where was God on September 11th? How could He let this happen?” These questions are often asked when unimaginable tragedy strikes. Our limited human minds desperately try to capture and make sense out of the horrors that we face in our lives. I am sure with everything within my being that God was there. Some of the wisest words that I’ve ever heard addressing the question of how God could possibly allow the devastation that happened in the wake of that day were delivered on September 12, 2001 by Brad Powell, the Pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Michigan: “Where is God when life hurts? When life hurts God is in us! He’s not in the things that hurt. He’s not flying an airplane into a building that’s going to collapse on thousands of people. He’s not doing that! He’s not in the person doing that (evil) and motivating them and making that His purpose. But, He is taking that circumstance and in us, allowing the impacts of that to help us become more like Jesus Christ, to accomplish His purposes. When we focus on the “why” we get angry. When we focus on the reason it’s something we can’t control. When we focus on our response on trusting God that’s when we experience peace, maintain security, and hope. God wants trust from us. Until we know a little bit more about running the universe we need to just trust Him. God is wise enough to create and run this universe, we should be wise enough to trust Him. God does not bring the evil in hope of producing good. So many people say “God did that.” God did not do the actions yesterday – He didn’t do it! He gave human beings freedom to make choice that brought about the actions. Because God gave freedom, people make choices – on September 11th people (to) whom God gave the gift of freedom misused their freedom and produced terrible evil. But, God is able to take the product of evil choices of evil people and bring good out of that evil. We didn’t wake up yesterday morning thinking of life and death. Today might be your last day. If you are a believer, be wise in the way that you act towards seekers, make the most of every opportunity. Now is the time and day of salvation. There are not a lot of moments in this life. Be conscious every moment of every day, living out in a way that seekers can see Jesus in you. Be ready to give an answer that it is Jesus in you. Set Jesus apart as Lord – make Him Lord of your life. Jesus is the answer. Live the hope and share the hope.”
God was there. Those four airliners held over 1,000 passengers and yet there were only 255 aboard. He was there on these airplanes holding the hand of each victim. He was there in the hearts of believers, listening to their prayers, comforting and assuring them that their relationship with His Son Jesus saved them. Not one of the family members who were called by a loved on any of the hijacked planes reported that passengers were screaming in the background. Instead, they were calling loved ones and sharing valuable details of what was happening on the planes.
The World Trade Center held over 50,000 workers and only 20,000 were at the towers when the first plane struck. Many of the people that were employed at the World Trade Center told the media that they were late for work or they were stuck due to traffic delays. Did God help by creating traffic jams in the city? I think so! He held up those two 110 story towers, after they were attacked so that two-thirds of the people in those towers at the time of the attacks were able to get out safely. When the twin towers toppled they fell inward. That day God picked up thousands of His brave children and carried them home with Him. He sat down and cried that 19 of His children could have so much hate in their hearts. He sent His children that are best trained for disasters to save the few that were still alive. And then He sent many others to help in any way that they were needed. He holds the loved ones that are left behind without their mother, father, child, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, relative, godchild, or friend. He comforts them daily. And although this was, without a doubt, the worst timing I’ve ever seen, I can see God’s miracles in the midst of the terror and hurt, touching each of us.
Never forget that God is Love and that He longs for each of us to be in a relationship with Him. He’s the only true security that we have in this world.
Beloved, are you trusting God? I certainly hope so, because someday I want to meet you in Heaven when God brings you home too.
“Apart from me, you can do nothing” John 15:5