Where were you on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001? Can you remember?
I was 7 years old, folding laundry in our living room with my mom and my baby sister as the television was buzzing in the background. My dad had taken my other sister to the doctor’s office to treat her broken arm, so it had already been an interesting day for my younger self.
Do you remember how it felt on that day to watch innocent lives being lost in front of your eyes?
Next thing I know these strange pictures start flashing up on the screen. There were panicked announcements about an airplane that crashed in New York City. In the images I saw on our curved television screen, there was tons of smoke covering screaming and crying people.
Do you remember watching the heroic first-responders running into fiery death-traps to save people they didn’t even know?
My mom started crying and dashed for the phone. I remember her calling all the family members she could reach as well as friends with whom she hadn’t spoken in a while but who knew people working in one of the targeted areas. I remember her not being able to contact many people because all of the phone lines were tied up with people trying to do the exact same thing.
Do you remember the dust and ash that poured through New York City and the Pentagon?
She tried to have me leave the room so I wouldn’t see the frightening images on our TV, but I continued to catch glances. I remember seeing the second plane crash into the second tower.
Do you remember the story of the courageous souls on Flight 93 who gave their lives to save thousands?
I remember learning what a terrorist was and seeing first-hand how evil plays out in our world. I remember the shock and sadness felt by all around me.
I remember that night, and for consecutive weeks following, my family and I went to a local church for prayer services. The community of local churches had vigils for weeks to pray for the people who lost their lives and those who were left behind.
I remember so many tears but also strangers joining hands to pray for fellow countrymen whom we had never met. I remember seeing pictures of that day everywhere, reminders to pray for our country, American flags outside of every house and singing patriotic songs.
“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America,” said President George W. Bush in his televised address that night. “These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
I will leave you with the beautiful words of Pope St. John Paul II addressed to the American people on Sept. 12, 2001: “Yesterday was indeed a dark day in our history, an appalling offence against peace, a terrible assault against human dignity. I invite you all to join me in commending the victims of this shocking tragedy to Almighty God’s eternal love. Let us implore his comfort upon the injured, the families involved, all who are doing their utmost to rescue survivors and help those affected. I ask God to grant the American people the strength and courage they need at this time of sorrow and trial.”
Let us never forget what happened that day, and may we continue to pray for the souls of those who died, those who suffer every day from the loss inflicted on them that terrible day and those who continue to serve their country to keep us safe from those who would do us harm.
God Bless America.