It happened 11 years ago today, 9-11-01. I wasn’t there, not even close. In fact I was 1,500 miles away from ground zero. Still, I felt connected to what happened that day like I had never been connected to another event before in my 21 years of life. I assume that if you were over 10 years old at the time, we probably all felt that way. It was unprecedented and the magnitude of damage and devastation was almost incomprehensible. America had been directly involved in other cataclysmic events since WWII including a shocking presidential assassination, a painstakingly miscalculated war in Vietnam and a space shuttle explosion, but none of these had been on our physical soil with this scale of loss. This day would be different.
It was a crystal clear Tuesday morning in Dallas, TX on September 11th, 2001. I was on my way to school at 8am trudging through the slow morning rush hour traffic and making my way onto a high-rise exit bridge when the alternative rock station I was listening to at the time broke in and said they were getting reports that a plane might have crashed into one of the twin tower World Trade Center buildings in New York City, but they weren’t sure and went back to playing another song until more details emerged. It didn’t take long. About 15 minutes later, they broke through with another report that a 2nd plane had crashed into the other World Trade Center building. What? “This doesn’t make sense” they were saying and I was thinking the same thing. This seems to be more than just coincidental but it’s utterly confusing. By now I was checking other radio stations and all were coming through with the same reports with various theories starting to amass and unanswerable questions starting to mount up. I felt my heart starting to race and my mind was starting to run wild with imagination on what could really be happening. My school at this time was literally only a few miles away from DFW International Airport and the bulk of my commute was driven for miles alongside the vast airport.
While all of this news was pouring forth from the radio speakers of my truck, I felt the immense urge to call someone and talk to a real live person. This would definitely be out of the ordinary as I never called anyone at 8:30 in the morning just to chat it up. The first people I thought about were my parents, but I knew they would probably not be up just yet and if they were, they had probably not turned on the tv or radio to check the news, it just wasn’t their routine. So next, I thought of my grandparents and knew for sure that they would be both awake and probably attuned to the news that was breaking almost every second at this point. I called and they were in fact watching with horror what was going on and I asked them to tell me what they were hearing and to describe what they were seeing. “War” my grandpa said, he thought it was intentional and an act of war. While I was on the phone with my grandparents, news starting coming in that the Pentagon had been hit as well. Now it was certain, we, America was under attack.
As I was almost to school, news broke that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had ordered an immediate involuntary grounding of all planes in the U.S. and this was the first act of its kind in our history. Being right beside one of the largest airports in the nation, seeing planes all over the sky was commonplace and second nature, so on this morning as I was walking through the school parking lot on the way to class, I took note of only one single plane in sight that was making its way overhead to land. Speaking of class, it was History class that I was making my way to. At the time as I was walking to the classroom, many students were huddled around the tv monitors in the hallway and it was there that I got my first glimpse of the sheer chaos that was taking place in New York and Washington. I thought that for sure given the unprecedented historical event that we were actually experiencing as a nation in the here and now, that our normal class routines would be suspended, especially in a class such as History – I was wrong. The teacher barely even made mention of the event that was captivating the whole world outside of our classroom Somehow we all worked through the teachers agenda for the class just like it was any other normal and boring Tuesday morning. Looking back I still can’t explain why I or anyone else for that matter would sit in that class room for an hour that morning other than the fact that we had not yet fully grasped and comprehended that America and even the world had changed forever.
Immediately after class, I had a message on my phone from my boss saying not to come into work that day, that they were closing for the rest of day and possible even the next. I admit that this was the best news of the day and it did make me happy for a while, but the rest of this day more than any other in my life up to this point wouldn’t be spent thinking about my wants and desires as usual. I called one of my roommates at the time and we met up for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant to talk about the morning and to just be around people and to get a sense of connection as to what was happening to all of us at the same exact time. Unlike any other time before in my life, everyone I encountered, all the faces and body language I saw in person and the media commentators I watched on tv all expressed the same things: shock, awe, empathy, anger, sadness, despair and resolve. We as a country and as individuals were connected on that day in a way that I had never witnessed or experienced before and haven’t since. It was overwhelmingly sad to be sure, but there was also something utterly and unexpectedly beautiful about the unity and togetherness that I felt by the end of that fateful Tuesday and the days and weeks following that I might never experience in that same way again. It will always be a day that I along with the rest of the nation and world will never forget!
May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah and may we always remember the innocent who perished on that day as a blessing and give honor to those who gave and risked their lives helping their fellow brethren!