Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Day Like No Other

I suppose 9/11 is one of those dates that we'll all remember where we were and what we were doing.  It joins Pearl Harbor, Kennedy's assassination, the Challenger disaster, and other infamous events in the list of days that will stand out in our minds forever.

I was 33 years old at the time.....a stay at home mom with a minivan, who'd dropped off my second grade daughter at school and had the news turned on in the background as I did housework, while my one year old son took a nap.  Everything was right in my little world. 

I was in the kitchen when I could tell that some kind of major story was developing on the news channel, so I stopped what I was doing and sat down in the den to watch.  It was a plane that had crashed into one of the twin towers......and the talking heads speculated that it looked to be some kind of bizarre accident.  I watched the building as smoke and flames poured out of the gaping holes left by the jet and you couldn't help but think about the people....the moms and dads and sisters and brothers...... who, on that typical Tuesday, were sitting at their desks on those floors where this plane had accidentally flown into this building. 

As the cameras rolled through the dark clouds of jet fuel smoke, another plane came on the screen and flew into the south tower......and things changed.  We changed.  There I sat in that burgundy, wingback recliner with a damp kitchen towel still in my hand......with one sleeping child in his room and the other at her school.....and as their mother, I changed.

That morning, the cable news frantically jumped from one breaking story to the next.....bouncing all over the country covering the seemingly never ending trail of tragedies that knocked us all off of our feet and took our breath away.  I sat in that chair stunned.....wondering when it would stop.  Would it ever stop?  How many planes could there be?  Where would the next one crash?  I'd never felt that unsettled in my lifetime and haven't since then.

It was a chilling day.  Almost too much to bear as you watched people forced to choose their means of death as they hung out of  the smoking windows.  I will never forget the ties and skirts that flew up in the air as, one by one, people made their decisions to jump.  I remember thinking...that's someone's mother, friend....favorite uncle.  This can't be happening in America.
From that day on, mothers couldn't think about their children's futures without a shadow of uncertainty in the back of their minds.  There I sat with dreams of my little girl's proms, graduations, and being mother of the bride one day.  I couldn't wait until I could watch my son's little league games, see him grow taller than me, and take him for his driving test.  That second plane took away our innocent belief that nothing could happen to us here.....our unblemished look towards our children's futures and the world that we had brought them into. And for just a moment, on that day thirteen years ago, we began to question all of that.  Mothers, aunts, godmothers, grandmothers......we thought of those young faces that we love, feel responsible for, and who were coming along behind us and, on the 11th, we cried for them most of all.       

But we caught our breath and then came the twelfth.  The twelfth brought resolve, determination, unity, and story after story of heroism.  The twelfth brought out what makes us America.  We raised our flags.  We searched and rescued and dug with our hands.  We stood with the grieving and gave respect to our dead.  We reached into our pockets for the fatherless.  We cleaned up....piece by piece by piece.  We started to rebuild.  We felt renewed patriotism.  We filled church pews.  We sent up prayers.  And on the twelfth, we got up and sent our children to school and we went to work.  We refused to give into the fear.  We refused to let evil win. 

Today, on the thirteenth anniversary, we can still hear the faint hum of terrorism way off in the distance.  Even as people of faith, it's difficult to not become afraid sometimes. 

We know, though, that Americans refuse to be boxed in by fear...that is not who we are, where we came from, or how we got here.  We will always carry the same spirit of courage that our ancestors brought with them from across the oceans when they traveled toward the sound of freedom.
"For I am the Lord your God who
 takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."  Isaiah 41:13 

And most of all, we know that God is ALWAYS firmly on the side of those who love Him. Evil may have its temporary victories, but God will have the last word.
 "though the wicked spring up like grass
    and all evildoers flourish,
    they will be destroyed forever."
  Psalm 92:7 

So we can look bravely to the future with our children because our hope comes from Him alone.
 "Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 
 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us
 from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39

Let's pray for the families that were forever altered on that fateful day.......and for the mothers in those places around the world where terror is a daily occurrence.  They want good things for their children just like we do.    

God bless America! 




  1. how well i remember that day...i had just arrived at work and one of the attorneys in our firm came in saying a plane had crashed into the world trade center....we all rushed to watch the TV in our conference room when the 2nd plane became evident we were under attack. it was a strange day to say the very least and it was also the day before my birthday.

    God Bless America....we need it now more than ever

    1. Yes, Judy! Now more than ever! Hope you had a good birthday, by the way!

  2. Wow...what an emotional piece, Joni! I was a freshman at a military college, still asleep in my dorm room, when my roommate came in and turned on the TV that morning. I was so mad at her for making so much noise, until I realized why she was trying to wake me up. We sat there in stunned silence as we watched that second plane hit; classes were cancelled, a memorial service was scheduled that evening on the main lawn, our campus was somber and sad. We were fearful for what was still to come, what might happen next, and worried for our fellow classmates, the members of our military who could (and eventually would) be deployed as a result. I most certainly will never forget that day, the overwhelming sadness I still feel for the victims and their families, and the pride I felt in seeing our nation come together in support. United we once stood...sigh...

    1. Wow, Amanda! I bet that was an especially sobering place to be on that day....knowing that some of you would likely be involved in the coming fight. We definitely seemed much more united then.....I couldn't agree more. Thanks for sharing your memory.

  3. Beautiful! I have a second child BECAUSE of 9/11. I remember telling my husband in the aftermath of all that non stop news footage that if it were me running down an endless stairwell not knowing for sure if I would live or die, I’d regret not having more children. I know it was an uncertain time but my desires were not. I wanted more children. Eleanor is now part of one of the largest classes our school system has seen in some time. They call her the 9/11 class. I guess I wasn’t the only one with that desire. :)