It was a warm fall morning. Fall semester had just started on my 2nd year in bible college, and I was already running late for a class. I only had 2 classes that day and because of missed bus , I was not going to make the first one, "Oh, well" I thought as I walked into the library, which in my tiny bible college was more of a common room than the common room. Thats when I saw it for the first time, an image that will be ingrained in my head for years to come. Someone had placed a picture of the first plane striking one of the Twin Towers in New York.
Being a child of the 80's I thought someone had looked up a picture of the bombing that occurred in the late 80's and placed it as some sort of joke. As I grabbed a seat near some friends someone asked if we had heard the news. Having been on the bus and still living in the technological "dark ages," I was completely unaware. "A Plane crashed into the The Twin Towers!" my class mate mentioned. We had no idea what was going on. I remember saying that it must have been a small private plane that was malfunctioning and crashed then someone came in with a radio and turned it on. It was the only time I can remember when all the radio stations in Edmonton stopped their regular programming and were reporting on this great tragedy.
But as it happens with people who live through historic events, we didn't think much about it. We headed to our lectures and once they were done, I headed home, still believing it was just some minor accident, tragic, yes, but still just an accident. Once I got in I turned the TV on to see if anyone was reporting on the "accident" and thats when I saw the most horrific images.
The news stations reported speculations as to what happened and how. By this time the second plane had already hit the other tower and both were billowing smoke. I could not handle watching what I was seeing and turned the TV off. I could not believe that something could have gone so wrong. I could not believe that someone would choose to attack innocent people in such a manner. Fear gripped me and I frantically called my mother at her work to see if she was alright. I'm not sure why I thought she would be in danger, we're nowhere close to New York, but I guess the realization that someone could use a passenger plane as basically a missile made me afraid that it could happen here. Once, I was sure she was fine i headed back to the living room and turned the tv on just in time to see the first tower fall.
I started to weep. I collapsed on the floor and could not believe what I had just seen. There were people in those buildings! Firemen, Police officers! people with families and homes. People who just that morning had said goodbye to their loved ones who expected them home at the end of the day. There was so much pain. So much!
As the images of the dust settled I also saw hope. Men, women, rich, poor, black, white, did not exist this day. I saw people who had been strangers help carry the wounded away from the rubble. Officers and Firefighters bravely ran towards the cloud of dust while others were running away. I saw men and women who displayed real courage. That day heroes did not wear masks but were cloaked in a layer of dust and debris. Many lost their lives so that others might live. They left families and friends behind to help people they've never met. I saw hope.
That day something changed in the world I knew. Gone were the days when you could go on a trip and not worry over someone going nuts. Gone were the days of relative peace, because I knew that there would be great anger and an even greater call for retaliation. Gone were the days when you could look at a person across the aisle on a plane without suspicion. The innocence of the world I knew was gone.
This great tragedy did not affect me directly but it did get me thinking: "Would it be cowardice or courage that would reveal it self should I have to face such a tragedy?" would I be the one running into the cloud of dust to try and help others out? or would run away and hope the professionals can handle things? One never knows how we'll respond to this kind of trouble, and hopefully we never have to find out. Instead let us always remember the brave souls that did go into the towers. Those brave men and women who fought through falling debris and ash to help someone escape the collapsing buildings. Those whose sacrifice allowed many to see their families again, but would they themselves never see their loved ones again.
I ask you, dear reader, to not ignore what we remember today. Sometimes we want to avoid pain by forgetting about situations, but to do so would be an insult to the memory of the courageous few. Rather remember and pray. Pray for the families whose pain returns each year. Pray for those who will never feel whole again because of that missing loved one. Pray that if (heaven forbid) you are faced with a tragedy in life that you will stand tall and unmoving against it. That when the time comes to choose to reveal the true nature of our character that we will be able to live out the words written in John 15:13 "Greater love has none than this: that one lays down his life for his friends"