Just like everyone else in this country, I, too, remember where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001.
I was waking up, just a few days into my junior year of high school. My alarm clock went off around 6:00 am Pacific time that day. I usually like to get up earlier because I don't like rushing my mornings. The alarm was set to station 103.3, a soft-rock station I grew up listening to in the morning while being whisked off to school. Craig & John, the hosts of the morning show at the time, said something about a plane flying into the World Trade Center. Being a non-morning person, I vaguely heard those words and just assumed a puny prop plane crashed into it, and went halfway back to sleep, shortly after the radio hosts casually mentioned their own memories of the WTC bombing nearly a decade earlier. Little did I know that I woke up 15 minutes after the first crash into the North Tower.
As I gradually got up, I heard the seriousness on Craig and John's voices climb steadily. I was all ready for school, and I went down to the kitchen where my dad was sipping his morning coffee and reading his newspapers.
"Hey Dad, did you hear?"
"Hear about what?" he asked.
"A plane crashed into the World Trade Center."
"Sounds like an accident."
We flipped on the small television in our kitchen, and sure enough, every channel had live coverage of the North Tower pluming smoke and fire around it's upper mid section, the chatter of news reporters throwing fact and rumor in every direction as reports and tips came streaming through. That's when I realized it was more serious than I thought, but still considered it an accident.
That's when the second plane came. I was probably in the bathroom, but I didn't see it happen. My dad told me about it. Then I knew, mostly because the news reporters were saying it, that this was no accident.
My dad said all we can do right now is pray. So on my way to school, I did that, but I still wasn't emotionally affected by this disaster. It wasn't in perspective to me yet.
I got to school, and every TV available was plugged in to some random classrooms throughout the school watching the news coverage. Every teacher was late to class because we were all watching. By the time I got there, they were replaying coverage of the South Tower collapsing, the damage at the Pentagon, and shortly the news of Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania came in. Then I saw the North Tower collapse live, and the skyline of NYC was changed forever.
Already the reliable grapevine of any high school, fellow classmates were saying they heard the White house had suicide bombers holding the staff members hostage, and the State Department was hit by a car bomb. Obviously, none of that was true, but you couldn't help but wonder on a day like that.
When I first heard about the damage and the potential amount of people who died, I didn't feel anything. Don't kill me, but I originally thought that the victims were lucky, especially those who could have been Christians. I was like "dude, they get to go to heaven!"
Yes, I lacked some tact as I mentioned this to a few of my classmates. But as the gravity of the situation permeated into each class session, the discussions, the tears, and the great cloud of sorrow started hanging over every person in this country, I realized how wrong I was to think such things in a great tragedy. Yes, I know it to be true that if there were some Christians in those buildings or in those jets, they are celebrating eternity with our Heavenly Lord as I write this. Yet, the sudden impact of human loss in this country united us. Historians were saying how this made Pearl Harbor look like minor in comparison. In my English class we wrote down our thoughts and prayers, as a few of my classmates cried tears of worry and sorrow for family and friends living in NYC.
I did come to my senses, and the emotion did start running through me as I went to youth group the next night, hearing the casualty count continue to rise throughout the days and weeks.
Each American has this memory of human loss, yet I find it ironic. I remember discussing this with a dear friend of mine shortly after the attacks, and he gave me a slap in the face with this:
"Now we know how the Middle East feels with all the violence they see every day."
He wasn't trying to justify the attacks. No justification will ever make these attacks seems remotely good. He was trying to make me understand that we do live in a bubble here in America, and the freedom we do enjoy is abused, neglected, and taken for granted on a daily basis. The invulnerability of this country was shattered, just like the egos of the builders of the Titanic, or the creators of the Tower of Babel.
Maybe these attacks happened because this country needs a wake up call; that we aren't the only ones on this planet that matter. The international outreach of the country was strong, but it needs to be stronger as the world gets worse. We keep slapping the snooze button, unaware of the rotting that is happening, and not looking out for each other. Instead, we choose party sides, bash each other, horde resources, and spend money like it's going out of style. Are we the rich fool of Luke 12, thinking that the success we have is ours? Do we forget that this is unofficially (and hopefully stays that way) a Christian nation, and that what we have is just on loan from God?
We love claiming the good for our own, and place the bad as God's fault. How much more so is to realize the importance of God's love? His love isn't set by our standards. His love doesn't have an agenda. His love doesn't require a contract. For better or for worse, He loves us. As a nation, if we realize this, God's kingdom would soar, like our symbolic bald eagle.
I'm usually full of crap. And I had a long day at work.
Don't worry about it.