September 11, 2001…where were you?
I was actually in the Washington DC area on a business trip on that fateful day in American history, along with my then seven-year old daughter, Kristen. (she is now 17 and a senior in high school!) We were getting ready to fly home on that very morning the planes were flown into the twin towers in New York City.
And ironically I am in Virginia again on this 10th anniversary of 911. This time I am here by myself without my precious Kristen. I am here to help my mother who has recently had some intense health issues that require her to need assistance. When I first made my reservations to come to the East coast it did not dawn on me that I would once again be in the nation’s capitol on September 11. I believe this anniversary is an appropriate time to remember, to reflect, to honor those whose lives were lost and who gave sacrificially and to renew our commitments to our faith, our family & friends and our country. How significant then that the Lord would orchestrate the circumstances of my life to be in the same place I was on that fateful life changing day.
Here is an excerpt from my photo album written shortly after September 11, 2001. (I am so thankful that I took the time to write this down back then, one of the many bonuses of being a scrapbooker & journaler!) –
From the moment I turned on the television at my mother’s home in Springfield, Virginia…everything began to become surreal. I sat frozen alone on the couch as I realized the atrocity and severity of what was happening. Terrorists hijacked two airplanes and crashed them into the twin towers in New York City. As the events unfolded I watched with horror, along with millions of Americans who were glued to their television sets. It was like we were watching a nightmare and wondering what might happen next and if we would ever feel safe again.
All I could think was that I wanted to be home with my family. I was 3,000 miles away and with all air traffic being suspended indefinitely, there was no certainty of when I could get home. I called Dan who was still unaware of what was happening on the East Coast (It was still very early in California). He prayed for me & told me how much he loved me. He also shared how relieved he was that I was at home at my Mom’s and not on an airplane at that moment. As I sat back down to watch the unfolding drama I learned that another plane had crashed just down the freeway from where I currently was staying — into the Pentagon. I was stunned! What was happening…and what would be next? It was at that point I looked down at my confirmed airline itinerary dated September 11. 2001 from Washington DC to California. The full impact hit me. My daughter and I could have easily been passengers on one of those airplanes heading to California. I began to cry & praise the Lord that it was not my time to die and that I was not on an airplane right then being diverted to another city somewhere in the United States. Instead, I was safe at my mother’s home with my sweet daughter. I had a lot to be thankful for that day. We finally did get home five days later. (but not without several delays and obstacles including getting stuck in Minneapolis for a night and being graciously taken in by a business associate, Leanne Anderson, who rescued us from having to sleep in the airport) When we finally touched down in San Francisco, I cried. I had never been happier than to simply be home with my precious family.
In the aftermath of 911, it was inspiring to see patriotism come to life in America. Everywhere you looked people were wearing red, white & blue, flying flags, putting up signs & showing their love for their country & fellow citizens. Flags were everywhere – on every home, hanging from bridges, on cars, on buildings, on clothing…it was overwhelming & emotional. I found myself with eyes filled with tears and getting choked up several times a day as I witnessed the love of others and the patriotism that had been sorely missing in the daily life of most Americans. People also began to give of their time, talent & treasure in abundance. On every street corner money was being collected & people gave freely. Many volunteered their time and stood in line for hours to give blood. It was an incredible moment in history to witness this outpouring of love & generosity.
This tragedy of 911 also turned many hearts back to the Lord and to faith. Everyone was in desperate search of answers and in great need of peace, hope & security. People were coming together in droves to pray and seek God. Our common faith in God became evident to all. The cross rose up out of the ashes of the towers and became a symbol of hope for those at Ground Zero in New York. We all knew that we desperately needed God. No one was offended by people praying or evoking the name of Jesus. There was a National Memorial Service broadcast worldwide where Billy Graham boldly proclaimed the gospel.
September 11, 2001 was truly a day that changed everything.
Were you changed by the events of September 11?
Did you stop everything & order your priorities aright?
Did you have a renewed sense of patriotism & love for the USA?
Did you weep with those who lost loved ones and hold your precious family closer?
Did you give blood, donate your time or money in the aftermath?
Did it draw you to the Lord?
Perhaps on this anniversary of 911 it would do us all some good to recommit to these same things today. In this ever-changing and turbulent times we are living…none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
It is so easy in the years following a disaster or life changing event to lose your resolve, be lulled into apathy or even forget the things that you thought would stay with you forever. Take the time today to remember and recommit yourself to loving God, loving others, loving life and loving our country with the intensity we did after 911.
I will be re-committing my life to these values as I attend a memorial service in Washington DC on Sunday. I want to live my life as if each day could be my last –
- ready to meet my Lord by humbly living a life pleasing to Him
- loving my dear family & friends and spending time enjoying each other
- reaching out with kindness and compassion to strangers, those in need and even those that I find challenging
- not stressing about the small inconsequential things that try to irritate or distract me from the truly important things in life
- joyfully serving my church, my community, my country and my world using my God-given gifts & talents to benefit others
What do you remember about the way your life changed after September 11? What values will you recommit to on this anniversary of that horrific day? Don’t let this moment pass you by without some reflection on the past and commitments for your future…in just a blink of an eye we will be another decade away from this fateful day…let’s be changed for the better!
God Bless America!