Where I Was on 9/11
On this morning 14 years ago, the country faced an attack and tragedy liked none in my generation had experienced.
Twin Towers in New York City.
The Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
A field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
These three places are where the innocent lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
I was sitting at my desk. At the time, serving as the Minister of Education for First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Georgia, it was a good season of life and ministry. I was only 31 years old and serving as a senior staff member to a megachurch. Often too brash but learning how to love and lead people well. My sons were small. In fact, our oldest was in Kindergarten.
And then the news came through. Someone in the hallway said something about a building in New York City.
I turned on a small television just inside my office. It only picked up local stations by its antennas and was grainy. I saw what so many saw in that moment… a skyscraper with smoke billowing from a gaping hole. The surreal happened next.
A plane careened into the frame and crashed into the second tower.
“Did you see that?!?” is the distinct memory I have. It was what I said to someone standing next to me. I asked not to discover if their eyes were on the screen but because I could not believe my own eyes. Shock set in; with all of us.
My wife Angie and I got on the phone. I think I called her but don’t remember who dialed what number. We quickly discussed whether or not to get our older son Andrew out of Kindergarten for the day. We let him stay for the day as not to upset the system, panic others, and just to keep a sense of sanity in his life so our kids would not has an active knowledge of such a horror.
Eventually, I left the office. Everyone did. Not just my office but every office. I don’t really remember the next few days. It was filled with the gasps of horror when we it was known for certain that terrorists had plotted the act. I had a mixture of sadness and anger. I was dumbfounded then and now about the fear that overtook those passengers. Discovering that those on United 93 had the courage to step up in the face of certain death, made my blood pump just a bit faster. Trying to understand the evil lodged in the heart of those who completed the attacks was not possible. I could only say: People are evil.
The photos of that day’s devastation haunt us all. The fallen buildings. The wounded Pentagon. The crash site in a field. Citizens running for their lives. The terror of lifeless bodies.
As we do on each September 11, we remember.
Pray for the families today who will grieve once again over the loved ones they lost on this date.
Ask God to give wisdom to our elected officials who must navigate international relations with strength so that this might not happen again.
Say thank you to any police office, soldier, or emergency responder you see today as they stand on the line for the rest of us.
Tell your children that evil may exist in the world but we need not fear it.
Stand up straight and walk in the light of our freedom.
Today, I will remember.
Cowardly villains choose to kill while the righteous seek the good of others.
Watching police officers and early responders running toward the devastation to save the dying.
The President standing on rubble with a bullhorn in one hand and his other arm wrapped around a firefighter.
Hearing Todd Beamer say “Let’s roll” with such certainty and urgency.
14 years ago, I was lost in a whirlwind of emotions. Today, I am not. Evil exists and we must stand up with a reason for the hope we have.
“This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.” -Ephesians 6:13