I remember the day as though it were yesterday. Kind of hard not to when it’s also my birthday. It was impossible to comprehend as I watched it unfold on TV. My ex-husband (husband at the time) called me at work. Did you see what happened? Do you have a TV? Turn it on! We gathered at work and plugged in a TV. I saw the second plane hit. At first, I thought it was a movie, not reality. This really can’t be happening. It’s not possible. What’s going on? All of us stood stunned. Customers in the store stopped to watch, too. Hands covered mouths, eyes began to tear. Work and shopping was forgotten that day as we saw our world crumbling to the ground in smoke.
The commentators started talking, shouting, frantic, telling us this was real. That New York was being attacked! Fear seized my heart as I worried what would happen next. The fallout was immeasurable. I saw them jump from the rooftops, thuds as they hit the ground. One after another, despair and fear their only emotions. My brain couldn’t register that I was watching those stuck in the towers end their life by jumping. My heart stopped with each broken thump. It is a memory that will haunt me the rest of my life.
We always remember that day by asking, “Where were you? What were you doing when the planes hit?” It is a defining point in the lives of my generation just as JFK being shot, Martin Luther King being assassinated, Pearl Harbor, and more.
I will always remember and I will never forget.
This is a piece I wrote not long after it happened and I thought I would share it with you today in remembrance of those lives lost on 9/11 and the heroes that sacrificed their lives for others.
God, where are you? We cry as the first plane hits. God, where are you? We cry as the second plane hits. Infernos burning bright and powerful, hell has come to reign on earth. Waiting with bated breath we stand, in awe of such an evil mark, wondering if our turn will come next. Will we make it? Will our time end now amidst this ravaging pain and sorrow? God make it end! God stop the screams and thuds of others…how much can we endure? Towers come crashing down, spilling its heart to the earth. The shuddering ground belches its fury forth, angry with mankind. Smoke and dust billow high, suffocating all in its way. How could you, God? You knew my husband was in there…you knew my child was in daycare…you knew my wife was the secretary on the 71st floor…how could you? Our lives shattering in a moment; grief, despair, anguish and fear seizing our souls. Running as fast as we can to escape the choking, whirling dust…feeling the pounding heat upon our backs. Huddled in corners of “war-ravaged” buildings…waiting for the impending doom, certain our death is near. People are filming with cameras, trying to capture the scene, numb beyond repair. How could you film such destruction as this? How could you immortalize people dying and crying, lost and alone? How could you expose them and share their deepest pain to the world? Watching on TV the live broadcasts, unable to imagine it is all so real. Images look surreal, a movie in the making, the thriller of all time. A documentary of firefighters, brave souls who lost the fight with hell. Watching their eyes…unbelievable, not happening, this can’t be true. Digging for bodies amidst the rubble, pulling out pieces that were once recognizable. Arms grow heavy and souls grow numb, crushed with more than they can bear. Hearing the faint cries of a baby, buried beneath tons of stone…lost for days until the cries grow silent, an ominous sound, the ringing death toll. How many more, God? How many must we lose until You are satisfied? How dare you, God? How dare you?! How dare you let me suffer this way. How dare you shatter my heart like glass. How dare you cause these people to die. How dare you cause a mother to become single. How dare you take a child away. How dare you cause a father to stumble and cry out in pain. How dare you, God! Churches open their doors, answering the tormented cries. Altars are flooded, crowded and angry. Sorrowful laments of pain. Looking for release and answers. Pastors are praying fervently and hard, hoping that (dare they?) Jesus will come, lay his hands on us, hold us gently and secure until we can stand again. Flags are hung in memory and honor. Lips utter phrases of “God Bless America.” Do they know what they ask, God? Do they know what they seek? How can they be so selfish and not see? Stickers, pins, placards, lawn and window ornaments, hats, shirts, cars and more are made to proclaim “We are the USA.” Pride soon follows of a land shaken, but not beaten. Of a people who are burned, but not eternally lost. Burn Iraq and Saudi and Iran and Bin Laden. Take out a few others, too. We burn with hate and anger and injustice, ready to return the strike of pain. We retaliate in fury, leaving our mark on them. We are here and ready to fight. Bring us war and revenge and Bin Laden’s head on a plate. While we’re at it, how about Saddam, too? Maybe we’ll find a few others, as well, to make our righteous hearts heal.
Oh God, how can they? Can’t they see? Don’t they understand what happened? God, I’m sorry, oh so sorry. You never caused this to happen. You never meant for your children to feel pain. Who are we to say how dare you when it should be how dare we? How dare we ask that You bless America? How dare we expect to be protected? How dare we play God and seek justice? How dare we blame You for our mistakes and sin? We brought this on ourselves. We ask for it everyday. We disregard Your wisdom and love, believing our own way. We dig our own holes and bury ourselves in them, but expect to be delivered when it gets too hot. God, you have never left or forsaken us. You were there when the towers fell. You were there when people jumped, too terrified to remain. You were there when we cried out, Oh God where are you? You answered, but we didn’t listen. You told us, “Right here.” Oh God, how can we be so blind? How can we be so selfish? You won’t start blessing America until America starts blessing You. How dare we expect anything different. Oh God, forgive us…forgive us…for we know not what we do…..