September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. I was sitting at my desk around 8:30 gathering material for that week's staff meeting that would begin at 9:00. Just moments before 9 my wife calls to tell me a plane has hit one of the World Trade Center towers in NYC. I told her it was probably a suicide in a small plane or maybe a mail or cargo plane that got off course. Then only a minute or two later one of our preschool workers stuck her head in my office doorway to tell me of the plane. I shared the same opinion with her that I had with my wife; some poor tormented soul or a terrible miscalculation. I left to walk next door to the conference room for our meeting.
As we set down our youth minister was obviously shaken. He said that he had heard a second plane had hit the second tower. This woud have been only minutes after 9 a.m. He had a special connection with NYC and had returned only a short time ago from New York with many of our high school students. I assured him that news was often distorted during the first few minutes after a tragedy. I was sure it was still only one plane. After all, two planes would be hard to dismiss as an accident or suicide.
It was decided that we should bring a TV from one of the classrooms into the conference room just to get the facts clear. There was a somber atmosphere in the room which was a marked contrast from the laughter that usually permeated the air, at least at the beginning of these weekly meetings. We all sat stunned as the news ran replays time after time of the first and second towers being targeted by commercial airliners. The rest of the meeting and the workday is a blur. I'm not sure we got anything accomplished that day other than prayer for our country. We all went home early as did millions of other Americans and watched the tragedy unfold before us.
My last memory of that day is with my wife on the front porch of our home. We lived only a few miles beyond a nuclear plant. The night sky was clear. The roads were eerily silent as I supposed most people were huddled with family around the TV. My wife and I had spent much of the day assuring the boys that we were going to be ok. As Marilyn and I instinctively looked at the beautiful night sky above us we could see planes passing overhead. I told her that those had to be military aircraft because all civilian flights had been grounded in the United States. Then we noticed the pattern of the planes. The trails they left behind them made it look as if they were playng tic-tac-toe in the night sky. I then realized they were flying a grid pattern above the nuclear plant nearby. That's when it hit me. A thought began to form that sent a chill down my spine. I looked at my wife and said, "Things from this day forward will never be the same. America has been attacked on our own soil. This changes everything."
I thank God, as I'm sure you do as well, for the men and women who have prevented such attacks from being repeated. You know events like 9/11 have been thwarted time and time again since that horrible day. I also know that God has protected our nation from harm. Let's not let up from our prayers for His divine protection. Let's remain vigilant to protect our freedom and may we never take that freedom for granted.
"He is my rock and my refuge, My God in whom I will trust." Psalm 91:2