12 September 2006

Where Were You on 9/11?

I was in college. I first heard about the attacks on the WTC as I was finishing up my first hour class--Missions, with Mr. Cushman. Mrs. Cushman came over to the ERC building to tell her husband about it; all that I really heard was something about an airplane and a building in NYC. It sounded like some freak accident at that point.

Then, I went straight into my second hour class with Dr. Lindsay. He was talking about its being a terrorist attack, but even he didn't seem to grasp the significance. He was making jokes about being safe from attacks because no one would want northern Wisconsin.

We got out of class a little early, and I walked down the stairs into the lobby of the ERC to see the big-screen TV set up and showing broadcasting live from New York. That was about 9:45 Central Time, or 10:45 Eastern, which was when the second tower fell. The image of people fleeing in terror as the smoke and dust of the collapsing building seemed to chase them through the streets has been permanently etched in my mind. We all just stood there in the lobby and watched the TV as they showed over and over the plane hitting the second tower and the towers collapsing one by one. The other image burned into my mind even today is that of the people leaping out the windows of the towers and falling to their deaths to escape the fire and terror in the buildings.

By the time chapel started at 10:00, the significance of the events had begun to sink in. I remember the dead silence in the chapel as Dr. Horn explained what had happened for those who hadn't yet heard. Then, slowly the sound of quiet tears could be heard throughout the room. We had no more classes that day, and I remember simply alternating between watching the images from the day on the news and crying out to God, "Why?"

I remember, too, watching President Bush address the nation that night. I remember thanking God that George W. Bush had been elected instead of Al Gore. I remember the way the President described how our world had changed, that a new kind of war had begun. I remember the feeling of having been personally attacked and assaulted, even though I knew no one who had died that day. And I remember the feeling of vulnerability to realize that something of this magnitude could happen to America.

Today, five years later, although we all vowed at the time to "never forget," time has healed many of those wounds and quieted those feelings. In many ways, life in America has returned to normal, especially for those of us who have lost no family or friends in this War on Terror. Part of the reason for our returned feelings of security is due to those who are giving there lives to achieve it. And, our security is also due to those men and women who are working behind the scenes to foil those who would attempt to attack us again. They deserve our thanks.

However, I think one of the greatest lessons that 9/11 taught me is that my ultimate security is in Christ. Although our country was proved to be vulnerable that day five years ago, our God is a Strong Tower where we can run to be safe.

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