September 11, 2001. The day is forever etched in my mind. I was a wide-eyed senior at TCU, and I was preparing to go to a morning lab. My roommate was watching TV when the show cut to breaking news. Our mouths agape, we watched together in horror as a plane slammed into the side of the World Trade Center. The events to come were yet unknown; the second plane had yet to hit, the towers had yet to fall, the nation had yet to stand still. So I went to my lab, a sense of trepidation growing in my heart. It was one of the only classes that would commence that day; all succeeding classes were cancelled. As my lab concluded and I began to pack up my bag, the world was beginning to realize the full gravity of the events in New York City. A second plane hit; the towers fell; lives were lost; heroes were born; prayers were muttered through muffled sobs.
A few days later, with an anguished heart, I sat down to wade through the emotions. This letter, this perspective from my younger self, was the result. It only seems fitting to revisit that letter today. May we never forget, and may God keep his hand of blessing firm upon our country.
To all those dear to me:
“Find rest O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” – Psalm 62:5
September 11, 2001. An eerie sound filled the sky. A deafening quiet echoed overhead where a busy skyway once sounded. No sound of commercial airlines wafted through my window, and the stillness only emphasized the tragedy that struck New York City and the heart of every American. In an unprecedented act, all airports were closed in response to the four, fated planes that found themselves bound for the largest terrorist attack on our homeland: the land of the free. When the rumble of aircraft did penetrate the quiet, I ran to my window where an upward glance revealed a fighter jet, undoubtedly leaving the Carswell Naval Air Station on its way to the epicenter of fear and heartbreak.
Striking NYC’s World Trade towers and the Pentagon—emblems of American financial and military power—this terrorist act has struck indescribable fear in the hearts of us all. Again and again I have watched that second plane fly directly into the second tower and explode amidst smoke and flames. Each time I see it, I am sickened to my core. A part of America has died with those victims.
The scenes that replay mimic far-off turmoils in long-distance places, and yet they’re here, at our doorstep; this is country, our city, our people. The TV glows with glimpses of unimaginable heartbreak, and yet, these will also be scenes that will unite the American spirit. Through it all, I glimpse the the American people triumphing over the pain. Patriotism is being lived out; neighbors are standing side by side; the spirit to overcome is emerging.
And it’s only natural that we ask questions. One question understandably wonders: Where is God in all of this? We are human, and we’re incapable of providing that answer. This, and other situations, render themselves unexplainable. But we choose to stand on faith.
If we feel that God has turned his face from our country, let us remember that it was at the culmination of human history that God also appeared to have turned away his face. On the cross, where mockers and scoffers called out to the crucified Christ, it seemed as if God had turned away. But three days later, God revealed himself and His plan for the redemption of all humanity when Christ rose victorious from the grave.
And Christ is with us now, in this tragedy. I see him among the people, milling about in the streets of New York. He is with the restaurant owner who offers what little sustenance he can to the volunteers sifting through the rubble. He is with the woman who offered her home to unknown strangers, displaced by tragedy. And He was there on that plane. One airline crew member, who perished in one of the crashes into the towers, often told his wife that perhaps one day Christ would use him on the plane. “If there is ever a time when a plane goes down,” he said, “and there is one person who does not know Christ. If I can tell him about Christ and lead him to salvation, then I have accomplished my purpose.”
We serve a God who is sovereign over tragedy, and He will lift us above this. Old Glory will wave once again, proclaiming as never before that we are: One nation under God.
“We should never forget that redemption, the world’s greatest blessing, is the fruit of the world’s greatest sorrow.” -J.R. Miller