I was 14 years old when this all happened. I was outside with my dogs, enjoying the Hawaii sun when my little sister came running out yelling something incoherent about airplanes, New York, and grandma and grandpa (they live in NY state). As I dashed inside, my brain vainly tried to process through what could possibly be going on. In the house, my mom and brother were glued in front of the tv, frozen by images of some of the biggest buildings in New York City burning and then collapsing. Because of the time difference, by the time we heard about what was going on and got to the news, almost everything had already happened. Both planes had hit, fires were everywhere, brave men and women were responding to this emergency, and everyone was praying with everything that was in them.
In some ways, I think that made it harder. There was now so much information to take in. As we were slowly comprehending what was happening in New York, we were being bombarded with additional information that the Pentagon had been hit and there was another plane somewhere in Pennsylvania. I don't remember thinking much...I think my heart was too full...or too broken.
We did eventually talk to our grandparents and family in New York state, confirming their safety and waited and prayed for those whom we knew closer to the city and in other parts of the country. That day still feels like a blur...I don't think much was done or accomplished but we kept functioning - somehow. The months that would follow became much more challenging. Here was a new threat in the world. Almost like the beginning of a different kind of Cold War. We knew who the enemy was but how do you fight something intangible?
Marine friends started getting deployed several months later - I didn't see one friend for almost two years. Air Force friends were also being activated for shorter periods of time. As months turned into years, Army friends started doing one, two, or more tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was during these times that I struggled more. I hated that these men and women were being forced away from their families and the "normal" lives they had lead by the hate of a small group of people. My brain still can't quite understand it. But our lives now are affected on a daily basis - our airports now look almost like army bases in some ways, the world halts at the slightest hint of an increase in security threat levels.
But it has made things better too. Immediately after September 11, 2001, I do not remember thinking about where God was. I had always been taught that God knows all things and that He is in control of all things. If that was the case, then He had to know what was going on and how to take care of us in the process. As months and years wore on, I often wished I did not have to pray for the safety of friends in Baghdad or men driving convoys around the Middle East. But I did. I did pray for them and the families they had left behind. And life went back to normal - which is the biggest victory we could have had in the situation. One horrific event could not change God's plan of good for His people.
In the face of death and loss, Americans everywhere said that we would still fly in airplanes. We said that we would still welcome people from all over the world who came to our land to start over. We still go to work in tall buildings instead of burrowing underground like we could have. Do these things sound silly? Perhaps. But this determination or resignation (sometimes I'm not sure there is a difference), has propelled people into the future which is now our present day.
|my family at my brother's commissioning as a US Army officer in 2010|
September 11th, 2001, were the first casualties in a war. Men and women are still fighting that war today. We remember because it is still with us. But the wound that was created that day heals a little every time we push on and pray that God continue keep His people in the palm of His hand, at the center of His will...