Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Morning To Remember

On the ninth anniversary of the murderous attack on American soil, I am still angry. It's a cold and abiding anger, unlike that I felt on the day of the attack itself. I have confessed more than once to a major flaw in my Christian life in that I have a problem turning the other cheek and loving my enemies. Fortunately, my younger daughter sent me something that I couldn't have written myself.

I turned on the television that day nine years ago just before the second plane hit. At first I thought I had turned on a disaster movie by accident. Quickly, the realization that this was actually happening struck. After recovering from the initial shock, my attitude turned to worry, not only for the victims, but because I knew that my son who had been on the east coast on business frequently took the flight out of Newark to San Francisco which ultimately became the only one of the four planes that didn't hit its target. It was hours later that I found out that he hadn't made the trip at all, and was at home in Berkeley watching the events at the same time I was.

At that point, my shock and worry turned to hot anger and a determination that revenge must be had. I watched with horror as my fellow human beings jumped to their deaths rather than allow themselves to be burned to death. I saw the collapse of each of the towers, and the panic and bravery shown on the streets of New York City. I saw the hole in the Pentagon, and ignominiously thought "at least that's a military target." Seeing the wreckage of the Newark flight that ended up in a Pennsylvania field because of the bravery of the passengers brought a brief note of pride to my thinking, but did nothing to allay my anger.

Today, as the brethren of the hijacking mass murderers continue with their plans to build a triumphalist mosque at the site of their greatest victory over America and everything she stands for, I cannot give up my anger. It is more focused, less scattered, and advised by nine years of watching events unfold in the world of Islam and the accommodating West. But it remains anger, even if somewhat tempered by rational thought and legalisms.

Instead of allowing me to focus on myself and my anger, my daughter provided me with a reminder that there is one source from which all understanding and forgiveness flow. That source is always with us, and doesn't suffer from human flaws. And to that purpose, I offer the following:


You say you will never forget where you were when
you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
with a man who called his wife to say 'Good-Bye.' I
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
is OK..I am ready to go.'

I was with his wife when he called as she fed
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
tried to understand his words and as she realized
he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
woman cried out to Me for help. 'I have been
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!' I said.
'Of course I will show you the way home - only
believe in Me now.'

I was at the base of the building with the Priest
ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He
heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their
faith has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .
I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
every name - though not all knew Me. Some met Me
for the first time on the 86th floor..

Some sought Me with their last breath..
Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the
smoke and flames; 'Come to Me... this way... take
my hand.' Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You
may not know why, but I do. However, if you were
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have
reached for Me?

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
for you. But someday your journey will end. And I
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are
'ready to go.'

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.



Anonymous said...

Great article. You know I'm not a religious man but I'm also terrible with the emotional stuff, too - a character flaw that I'm sure will bite me in the ass one day in the future.

Having said that, I remember where I was. It was my year at FSU in Tallahassee, FL. I had math classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - Tuesday was test day. We were waiting in the hallway for the previous class to leave when one of our classmates told us a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Naturally, most of us assumed it was an accident - a one-person craft that malfunctioned or something.

After our test, I stopped at the campus computer lab in the Student Union but I don't remember what the Yahoo! news headline was. A few minutes later, a woman came in and told us school was officially closed for the day. I went back to the dorm and put on the news - I'm pretty sure I still had it on eight hours later. I walked around with another friend looking to donate blood but by dinnertime, they were overstocked (!). My mother called me just to make sure everything was okay.

I don't remember 9/12 or the rest of the month at all.

Anonymous said...

Scott: Decent human beings feel emotions, both anger and sorrow, whether they are religious or not. Thanks for sharing your feelings about that horrific day, and I hope others will do the same.

I remember exactly where I was on the day of eight events throughout my life. The death of my father, the day Kennedy was assassinated, the death of my mother, and the day America was attacked on 9/11. Those were all sorrowful days, and two were combined with both anger and confusion.

But there was also my wedding day, and the days of the births of my three children. Life must go on, and though we should never forget, we must also remember that America can and must survive, lest the rest of the world slip into darkness.

Like you, I don't have the slightest remembrance of what I did or where I was the following days. But I do remember being resolved that the forces of evil would not prevail.

Di said...

Thank you for sharing that poem. I was a mother of two children under the age of 4 watching the events unfold far from danger in suburban Colorado. But I didn't know that I was safe. I cried the entire day and my children didn't understand why, and I was scared. The thought that ran through my mind all day was "What am I supposed to do?" I didn't know what else was going to come, how was I supposed to take care of my family if there were more attacks? My parents were on a trip in China - were they going to be safe, would they ever get home? And there was the deep sadness for those who lost their lives and their loved ones in such a horrible way, and the realization that I was living through one of two attacks on American soil. I will also always remember the eerie air silence that followed, only to be broken by a fighter jet now and then. Some genius celebrated the opening of a shopping center not far from me with fireworks - I thought we were being attacked again. Every year I watch as many documentaries as I can just so I can keep the memory and horror of that day fresh - I don't intend to ever forget.

Anonymous said...

LawHawk -

I'm not saying religion is a prerequisite for feeling emotions; only that I have trouble showing emotion sometimes. (I've been accused of being an emotionless robot before.)

Now that I think of it, I remember one thing about 9/12. I ventured out wearing a black t-shirt with "We Didn't Start the Revolution" printed on it. Now I want to stress - I didn't mean anything by this. I wasn't making any kind of political statement. Nothing at all. It was simply the shirt I reached for in the closet that morning.

I got a few weird looks that day and I never wore it again.

I also remember seeing all the 9/11 posters in the Student Union, including "America: Kicking Ass Since 1776" and "Osama: Wanted Dead or Alive" (though I'm sure it probably said "Dead or Dead)."

Anonymous said...

Di: It was a very confusing day. I was in the middle of a labor negotiation with Federated Department Stores for Macy's in San Francisco. Once the shock had passed, I realized that I still didn't know whether my son was on that Newark-San Francisco flight. So I called the labor relations office to tell them I would not be coming, and got a recording that truly frightened and saddened me. It announced that all Macy's stores would be closed until further notice and that all employees were to stay home since New York had been attacked and the company did not want to expose its people to any further danger there or in the other urban centers. That was the point that my concern was no longer abstract and had become very, very real.

Anonymous said...

Scott: I knew what you meant. I've been known on occasion for my "cold fish" reaction to horrific events, and as a lawyer I was trained not to show any emotion that I didn't want a judge, jury or opposing counsel to see. But I have to admit to having one area where I can't control my emotions that well, and that's my children. I went back to my usual reasoned, if angry self once I found out my son was home, safe and well rather than on that flight.

I wore an American flag lapel pin on special patriotic occasions before 9/11. From that day on, I wore it every day. I still do, unless I'm wearing a T-shirt or am doing something that would render it disrespectful.

Tam said...

I heard the alarm go off and the voice on the radio sounded weird. I hit snooze, and I knew something was wrong. When it went off again, the words still didn't register with me, but the feeling that something was really wrong was clear from the tone in the broadcaster's voice. I got up and turned on the tv and like others, it took a while to register that this was really happening. I had a lump in my throat and tears on the verge of my eyes for weeks. I am baffled that we have allowed ourselves (as a nation, certainly not as individuals)to become so accomodating to the evil and very real entity that attacked us that day. Our anger should be as fresh, just tempered by wisdom over time, as it was 9 years ago.

Very nice poem, it brought the tears over the edges of my eyelids this morning.

Tennessee Jed said...

Due to circumstance beyond my control, no real time to post much more than this. Very nice article, Hawk

Anonymous said...

Tam: There is such a thing as righteous indignation. Anger can be blinding and destructive, but your feelings match mine. I will never forget, the sorrow will always be there, but so will the resolve that we will go on and defeat the evil that kills in the name of religion. There can be no compromise with that kind of evil, and despite what the accommodationists say, it is not hate to wish to live in peace and have our places of memorial untainted by the very people who brought about mass deaths of civilians.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: Thanks, and I know you would let us know what you think and feel on this day if you had the time.

Anonymous said...

I will be out of the house for the next few hours. If you comment and I don't reply right away, please be assured that I will do so as soon as I return.

Notawonk said...

my husband was there and it was beyond comprehension. his brother, my dear b-i-l (an ex-marine), and one of my brothers, offered to drive from texas to the manhatten bridge to get him out. we were one of the lucky families that day; we were intact. thank you, god.

yet, as i wrote my post today, my anger hasn't diminished at all. as a christian i am called to forgive, but it's not easy being a sinful creature. i'm trying. baby-steps. (although if i am perfectly honest, i hang on to that anger, because i want someone's ass kicked. i blame my texas roots :)

i think it helps all of us to remember, to write what we remember, in honor of those who lost their lives.

i know i'll never forget.

AndrewPrice said...

This is one of the three or four days where I can definitely say I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about it. And it's probably the one day where I remember everything that happened that day.

Writer X said...

Thanks for sharing that poem. It made me cry, but I do a lot of that every 9/11.

I remember just having gotten back from a long run, and readying myself for work. Switched on the TV to catch a few headlines. Then I saw someone jump from one of the Towers. I cannot ever forget that and not sure I want to.

StanH said...

We went to 9-11 commemoration today, it was both touching, and patriotic. Lots of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, and their tools, helicopters, Hummers, with a flyover with a jet, and a C-130. It felt good on this ominous day, too stand up and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance,” listen to a rousing rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” with several thousand people, a Marine Corps Honor Guard, and our military heroes standing at attention, interspersed throughout the crowd, with that steely military glare, that you can be certain strikes fear into the Islamo-goons. Like everyone, I have vivid memories of that awful day, but being around these fearless soldiers, gave the day more of a, “hell yeah! …let’s kick some ass,” other than sadness, and uncertainty. It was a good choice for 9-11.

Nice poem Lawhawk!

Monica said...

I was at work when the first customer came in and said something about a plane hitting the towers. I remember wondering how an accident like that could happen, but after another customer talked about the second plane, we knew something was really wrong. We turned on a scratchy radio, and huddled around it to get the updates. Between the radio and the few people who came in for the rest of the day, we got the gist of it. I remember being upset that by the time I got home, the TV was already censoring the images, because I needed to see the worst.

This morning my country music radio station was doing a tribute, so I cried all the way to my aunt's house, admiring all the flags out along the way.

The shock has worn off over the years, but the anger - not so much.

Anonymous said...

Patti: It may sound strange, but I almost wish I had been there. Not for the horror of it, of course, but seeing just how strong and resilient Americans, and particularly New Yorkers are. The TV shots that day and the days following were inspiring, but there's nothing like being with people at the site as they restore your faith in your fellow man.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: I used to wonder why my parents seemed to dwell on their feelings about Pearl Harbor. September 11 answered that question for me. It's a sight I cannot and will not forget.

Anonymous said...

WriterX: My daughter and I are very much alike in discarding much of our e-mail when it contains attachments from people who send nearly everything they themselves receive. But something about the poem struck her, and she was pretty sure I would feel the same way. She was right, and apparently it has the same effect on others.

Anonymous said...

Stan: Unfortunately, there were no commemorations in our area. This is the first time I haven't attended one since 2002. Even San Francisco had an annual memorial, and it was one of the few times annually that the locals acted both patriotic and respectful. The other time of the year is Fleet Week, with the Blue Angels overhead.

Anonymous said...

Monica: Thanks for sharing that day with us. I turned on my TV after the first plane hit, and the announcer was saying something about a small plane hitting the tower. But the gash and flames coming from the side of the building told me instantly that it was no small plane. It was shortly after that that the second plane hit, and I knew we were at war.

Notawonk said...

law: husband is not a fan of ny. he would lament his visits there. BUT...on 9-11 he received kindness upon kindness by native nyers. he was taken in and taken care of as if he was one of their own (which of course he was). the stories he tells would melt even the grinchiest hearts. it still chokes me up just writing this.

and i'm with you, i would have been honored to witness such uplifting and strong spirits. for a moment in time, it made all of us one again.

Anonymous said...

Patti: My attitude toward New York City is much like that of the average tourist. Like my own San Francisco, it's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there (which was not true when I was young and lived in each of them). I love the semi-isolation where I live now, but at times of national crisis like 9/11, being with the brave people most affected by it produces a reaction of pride that can't be felt alone.

LL said...

I'm simply thrilled that so many people in New York City can put it all behind them and embrace the Jihadi Victory Mosque there at Ground Zero.

It will be a monument to -- tolerance -- yeah, that's it.

Anonymous said...

LL: Given the history of social movements over the past five decades, I'd have to say that the loud but minuscule crowd that showed up to support the building of the mosque was no indication of the feelings of the people of New York. A couple thousand out of how many million New Yorkers? And they were shouting the usual red herring slogans about the First Amendment. You could put that many people together in a major city to celebrate the birth of Satan. Which is pretty much the same thing.

I think that the MSM coverage actually proves our point. The leaders, particularly the Democratic leaders, are completely out of tune with the vast majority of both New Yorkers and Americans. What a pathetic lot they are, along with the "moderate" Muslims and their fellow-travelers.

If they actually succeed in building that abomination at Ground Zero, they can have their celebration, followed by a mysterious bonfire.

Anonymous said...

I’m a little late in posting, but I definitely remember where I was. I was a few minutes late for work that morning and had arrived shortly after the first plane had hit. We only had a radio in the office, so we also thought it was a small plane and an accident. When the second plane hit, we knew something was terribly wrong. When the first tower went down, I called my husband at home and told him to turn on the TV (he homeschools our kids and happened to be home that morning). One of my co-workers had family that lived close to where the plane went down in PA, so there was concern for them for a while. As you might suspect, we didn’t get a whole lot of work done that day.

One of the best documentaries of this event is the one by the two French brothers who were following a rookie fireman around. It is both heart and gut-wrenching, but well worth watching because it truly shows some of the horror and uncertainty of that day.

When the news came out about the waterboarding of terrorists, one of my current co-workers (who happens to be an Obama supporter) commented on how horrible it was that we were “torturing” them. I’m normally a pretty quiet person and don’t express my opinions on political issues too much, but something in me snapped. I had just recently re-watched that documentary and it was very fresh in my memory. I told my co-worker that the real torture was experienced by those poor people jumping from those buildings. Needless to say, they had no response to that.

Another great article, Lawhawk. I agree that we need to always remember and it sickens me to no end to hear the liberals carry on about the First Amendment when they could care less about it when it pertains to Christians. I hope and pray that this mosque does not get built on this site.


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