Nineteen Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger planes killing themselves and 2,977 others in a coordinated attack on New York City and Washington, DC. American Airlines flight 11 was crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. United Airlines flight 175 was crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers onboard became aware of the other attacks and fought back against the hijackers.
Each of us remembers where we were, what we were doing, who we called and how we felt when we received the news concerning the attacks on 9/11/2001. For some reading this it goes much deeper than a memory of an event but, a memory of a person or persons that were lost on the planes, in the buildings or in the rescue effort that followed.
I was sitting at a table outside our home in Garden Grove, California when we received a phone call from a family member in Baltimore, Maryland that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. My wife had already left for work; I was dressed and ready to go while my daughters were eating breakfast getting ready to go to school. We turned on the television and watched as the events unfolded before the eyes of the world.
No one knew what to say. No one knew how far reaching the attacks would be. What was happening?
Churches were filled that day with prayer meetings all across the nation. What had happened to our nation? How many people had been lost? Was there anything that could be done? What would happen now?
Emotions were strong. Tempers were hot. There was a deep sense of loss for those who had died and a great demand for justice and revenge against those who were responsible. All of our pretense had been stripped away. We were people; we were Americans. For that moment in time politics, ideology and even religious beliefs had no bearing on how we felt. We needed to rescue all that were still alive and we needed answers to what had happened.
I did not know anyone on the planes, nor did I know anyone in the buildings. In fact, I did not know anyone who lived in either city; yet the emotions I felt were as if family or friends had fallen. People were murdered. Men and women who were on their way home or on their way to a business meeting in an airplane were used as weapons. Men and women sitting at their desks; performing the tasks of their jobs were murdered. Public servants who responded to the attack gave their lives as they worked to rescue those who had been attacked.
We were reminded with severity that evil was real. We were victims and witnesses to the power of hatred. We were also witnesses to extraordinary acts of bravery, courage and heroism. In the midst of the greatest attack to befall our nation men and women displayed unwavering courage and love for their fellow man.
That was ten years ago. Many things have happened over the last decade. Our nation has waged two wars; thousands of our military personnel are still deployed. We have new leadership that is leading our nation in a significantly different direction. Our economy has gone through growth and recession. We are all ten years older. What has changed for you?
Three years ago my family and I were able to make our first trip to New York City. Having grown-up in a small town in Florida and having lived most of my life in the suburbs, New York City was quite an experience. We walked for miles with our heads tilted back, staring up at the buildings that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. On a Sunday, we took the subway to Battery Park and then the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Once we arrived back at Battery Park we walked down Wall Street – we took a picture with the Merrill Lynch Bull and then we saw Ground Zero.
The coverage provided by news outlets did not create a proper perspective on how large an area Ground Zero is. We were able to walk up to a construction fence and stare in. At the time, new construction and clean-up were happening concurrently. The destruction that had happened was enormous. Words cannot describe what had taken place there. We circled the entire complex and spent about an hour just looking – trying to take it all in.
As we walked away from Ground Zero we saw the Cross that was made from I-beams next to a church adjacent from the World Trade Center. It had been moved from the site so that construction could take place. Here are two pictures that I was able to take –the second one zoomed in upon the message written upon the cross.
I don’t want to spiritualize or Christianize 9/11/2001. There has been more than enough prognosticating, armchair-quarterbacking and conspiracy theorizing to drive you crazy concerning 9/11.
What I do want to share with you on this 10th anniversary of the attack is that the cross is still a sign of comfort and hope for all people. Everyone is invited to lay their burdens down at the cross of Jesus Christ. Lasting hope will not be found in presidents, economic or political reform or even advancements in technology. Hope is found in Jesus Christ.
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)