Thoughts On September 11, 2001
Looking back on the events of 9/11/01, two words come to mind: Family and Service. My sister, Kris is a retired Navy Captain. In 2001, she was a Commander stationed at the Pentagon. At 9:38AM, Kris was in her office, monitoring the events in New York when the plane hit the West side of the pentagon penetrating into the corridor between the “B and C” Rings. Her office was located in the “B” Ring just beyond the plane’s final stopping point. Kris’ purse, cell phone, house keys and money were left behind as years of training kicked in and the evacuation began. It wasn’t until much later that we realized how close she was to the impact area. After the initial shock of hearing the pentagon had been hit my brother, Billy, began the frustrating process of trying to locate Kris. The phone lines were useless; Kris’ husband Gerry was in Pennsylvania on business and her daughter was trying to locate them both. With the airports shutdown Gerry’s
only option was to rent a car and drive back trying to contact Kris by cell phone unaware of the events unfolding in Yardley PA. Mother and I were driving back from the West Coast and didn’t realize what was happening until we called Billy for our daily check in, with the time difference and a late start that morning we only had to deal with about 30 minutes of the horrible feeling of not knowing. It was approximately four hours after impact before Kris was able to contact anyone giving them the “I’m OK” to pass on. Kris is fourth generation Military, she and her husband Gerry are both retired Navy, together they have completed more than 44 years in service to our country. For our family, 9/11 has always been a special day not just because Kris was spared in 2001 but also because it’s Kris’ birthday.”
September 11, 2001 is a date that changed history and should always be remembered. On this date, almost 3,000 innocent, American citizens lost their lives to cowardly al-Qaeda terrorists, jealous of the freedoms we enjoy in this great country and eager to bring us down. These victims left behind sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and friends who are left to suffer the rest of their lives knowing they will never see their loved ones again. This was the most tragic loss of human life ever suffered on American soil. The way we lived our lives as Americans had changed forever, and our leaders need to be vigilant to make certain an event such as this never happens again. The memories of this catastrophic event should forever be etched in our minds as to not let those lost be forgotten.
Shock, fear, disbelief, sadness; these are just a few words I could use to describe how I felt the day I watched the attack on America. I sat and watched, powerless to do anything, but wanting to do something. I could not offer physical help but I could pray. Pray for those who ran for safety, pray for those who ran in to save, and pray for those who did not get a chance to run. I remember wanting to just be home with my family, to just hug my children, and kiss my husband and tell everyone I knew that I loved them. That fateful event made me realize, again, just how precious life is and how we shouldn’t take it for granted.
I never will forget September 11, 2001. The “Greatest Generation” had Pearl Harbor, the “Baby Boomers” had the assassination of JFK and the current generation “Gen X-er’s” had 9-11. the image of those “Twin Towers” ablaze, smoking and finally tumbling down, are still seared into my mind and memory.
I had worked a 12 hr. night shift the night before and had came home and went to sleep. When I awoke my wife and Mother-in-law began telling me about the mornings events and of course it was covered on every channel the TV had. At first I was in an unbelieving stupor. I just plain couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t possible. Or so I thought. I had served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late ’80’s. I had traveled with our military to the other side of the world. I had witnessed, first hand, America’s military might displayed. We were the greatest, most powerful nation on earth with the very best military armed services anywhere. Surely we couldn’t/wouldn’t be attacked by anyone, nation, terrorist organization or individual. I knew we Americans weren’t well liked EVERYWHERE we went. I had witnessed this, also first hand, in countries like Japan and China. But surely no one had the gall or guts to attack us! In our house! As reality began to settle in on and
around me, I slowly began to realize that perhaps, just maybe we weren’t as secure within our own borders as I had believed. Maybe there were indeed people out there in other nations that not only didn’t like us or our beliefs but were prepared to harm us to prove it. A lot had changed in the world and not all of it was for the better. After processing and digesting all of this information, my next thoughts were what were we going to do about it. I knew as a nation, a UNITED NATION, we would gather, honor and bury our dead, treat our wounded, comfort our neighbors, regroup, clean up and rebuild but what was going to be our response to the cowardly attack on America? We all know what that answer was and remains. We are a nation at war. As we’ve done in every other previous war we’ve fought, we have had to “take the fight to the enemy”. Do I agree with every direction the war has taken or with every decision made by our government and leaders? Certainly
not! But I DO SUPPORT OUR NATION, GOVERNMENT and TROOPS. You see, we HAD to respond as we did. If you would like to see what happens when you don’t respond or retaliate to terrorism, just take a look at some of the European nations. Terrorist bombings of some type or another is a almost a daily occurrence in some of those countries. This is our house! It’s up to us to defend. The “Greatest Generation” did an excellent job and passed the baton of leadership to the “Baby Boomers” who in turn are passing the baton to the next generation. It’s up to us, as a nation, now. We MUST defend our rights and freedoms! If a little crack in the foundation is not dealt with when it is small, eventually it will cause the whole house to crumble and fall. I support our nation and troops as much, if not more. today as I did 9 years ago when President Bush, and we as a nation, chose to respond to aggression and insult with our military force and might. The greatest
military on the face of the earth!
I want our troops home. Of course I do. But I also want my daughter to grow up and live in the freest and safest nation in the world. If it takes stationing troops outside of our borders to make that wish and dream possible, then that’s just what we’ll have to do. May God bless our leaders, may God bless our troops and may God bless the United States of America.
Months prior to September 11, 2001, I was told of a trip that several men from the Dillon Camp of Gideons were going to take to New York City for a Bible Blitz . My son, Kay McGirt, had been in this camp for several years. He and the other men had planned to drive to New York on Saturday, September 15, 2001. I began to pray for his safety, as well as the other Gideons. However it seemed that every time I would pray, I would burst into tears. My heart would be so heavy. So being a mother hen , I prayed more earnestly for my son s safety, but it continued and grew stronger. I asked God to please tell me or show me why I was so burdened about this trip. He revealed to me that I should to pray not only for my son and the other Gideons but also pray for the people of New York. Not knowing why, but following God’s leading, I began to pray for them as well.
On that Tuesday morning of 9/11, it was revealed to me why I was to pray for the people of New York and why God had burdened my heart so heavily about their trip.
I immediately called my son and asked him if they were still going. His response was, Mama, I don t know, but I feel sure we will . Talk about faith and trust in the Lord& it took that for those men to go to New York at such a critical time in our nation s history. God knew those men would be needed so He had prepared them for this huge mission.
Our nation was brought together, and I know God heard more prayers in that time than He probably has ever heard from this old world. Where are we now? Nine years later? We could sure use some more prayers today.
Folks, listen to that still small voice.
Thinking back on the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I remember vividly where I was when I first heard the news. I had left Dillon about 4:30 am on that morning to attend my first seminary class of the day, which began at 7:30 am. After that first class, Jeff Johnson (colleague and fellow carpooler) and I went to get brunch at the local McDonald’s in Wake Forest, NC. After completing the meal, we were returning to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to attend the chapel service when we received a phone call from Jeff Hickman, former pastor of Mount Calvary. He began describing events (of which we were totally oblivious) of the World Trade Center being hit by two planes and the Pentagon as well. Jeff Johnson was listening to the conversation and heard me repeat what he was saying. He (Jeff Johnson) thought that the person on the phone was disillusioned.
While on the phone, Jeff Hickman screamed, “Oh no, the tower just collapsed!” At this point, we turned the radio on and listened to the news reports about what was taking place. Jeff and I were totally shocked to hear what had been happening while we were merely going through our weekly routine of going to class and then out to eat.
We then decided to go to the chapel service at 10:00 am, which we knew would provide up-to-date information on the events affecting our country. Because we were eagerly awaiting more information, the late start of chapel seemed like hours, though it was only a few minutes. I will never forget the comments from our seminary president (Paige Patterson) that morning. He stated, “This is how war will be fought in this generation,” referring to the cowardly and vicious manner of flying planes into buildings. Patterson continued by stating the need for countries and individuals to arm themselves for protection against such enemies. He then led the students in a time of prayer for our nation.
It was not until all my classes had ended for the day that I had the opportunity to actually see the news reports and watch the images portrayed on television. I was staying with a friend, Paul Sapp, that night as I watched in total disbelief and dismay the planes flying into the World Trade Center. The devastation caused by those terrorist’s acts was surreal. As I watched the images, I knew that there were churches all over the United States and the world meeting to pray for our nation and the families of those impacted by this event.
n the immediate days and months following the 911 attack on America, churches were well attended, Christians were praying more, there was heightened patriotism, people said, “God Bless You,” and people reached-out to one another. It was common to see American flags on cars and houses and read the words, “God Bless You,” on business signs. For a moment in time, it seemed there was a unity that we held in the United States that had not been seen in decades.
What astounds me today is that this turn toward God, the church, patriotism, and unity was so short-lived. As I reflect on that day and to the things that are taking place today, I am utterly aghast at the turn of events. For instance, people can now turn to “The View,” and hear that radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islamists. It seems that Christianity is considered the religion of hatred, violence, bigotry, and evil, while Islam is considered to be a religion of peace. Even now there is a hot debate about building an Islamic mosque in the shadow of the where the World Trade Center stood, and many Americans have stood in their defense. Keep in mind, I am not discussing what legal rights a religious group has, I am considering what is prudent and respectful in light of the events that have taken place. A sensitive, peaceful, and humble religious group would and should realize and respect that the location of a mosque in
the shadows of the World Trade Center is not an option. Interestingly, many Americans have risen-up in defense of a group that wants to conquer and destroy America, replacing its values, laws, and customs with its own, while condemning, criticizing, and removing rights of Christians, from whom many hospitals, educational institutions, and humanitarian relief projects have emerged.
September 11, 2001 revealed a great deal about our country, such as our resiliency when our nation comes together toward a common goal. Many people came together in unity to care for those affected by the attacks that took place on that day. It also revealed that many in our nation know to turn to God when they are in crisis and uncertain about the future, though we also abandon Him when the crisis passes. Finally, it reveals that when we stand together in unison, we are strong and victorious, but we when we forget or attack the foundation of our country and abandon the God who has lavished
His blessings on us, we are vulnerable and doomed for destruction. May we learn from the lessons of the past and from the great nations of the past so that we never repeat the same mistakes. May God truly bless the nations that seek His face and follow His ways.
Minister of Education
I feel that 9/11 was a hurtful time for us all. It touched the heart of America. To have someone to our house and take lives like it was nothing. My son was born that year, so it took away from the joy of having him come into this world. It made me more protective of him and loved him more than I thought I could love. And now almost 10 years later, it still sits in my mind. And that’s why I’m here to do my part.
—PFC M. Davis
911 has shown me a lot of change and development of character of men. On the day of the event, unity came through the door as division went out. We lost focus on status, color, handicaps and other things that cause discriminations.
As individuals gave their lives form the 911 event until now, it hit homes of all. As soldiers lose their lives, time apart and the toll of things causing the separating of families. Now everyone starts feeling the staggered effects but hate to deal with the reality of the turn out. But understand the big picture- Freedom has a price and it’s high.
It showed our weakness as individuals, groups and country, but brought out our strength as a country. We are now standing for our soldiers, being brothers to our fellow soldiers as we fight side by side. Now our focus is clear. As I observe individuals that come into my life from day to day. Now this is what 911 means and has shown me.
—SGT. Arlando Connell Green
September 11, 2001 is a day that will always be in my hart and mind. That day has amplified my sense of patriotism and duty. My desire to guard and instill my country’s way of life in my fellow is the strongest that is has ever been.
—SSG Clayton Rowell
I feel that 9/11 was a horrific nightmare to a lot of people. This incident had broken apart families with its death and destruction. Our country took a massive blow to two of our national landmarks, the Twin Towers. To me, September 11, 2001 was one of the worst days in U.S. history and the people who lost their lives that day should never be forgotten and also the families should always be remembered in our prayers. Because to them they have to relive that day all over again and mourn the loss of their families and friends. This is just a little piece of my personal thoughts and opinions of that day. May all who died that day rest in peace.
—SPC Daniel Hayes
More than anything else, 9-11 taught me to cherish the things that I have been blessed with, including life itself. The American way of life, freedom, and the ability to go about our daily routine without fear are just a few things that make this country great. After the events of 9-11, many of us have realized that these items truly are blessings, and they are nor guaranteed. Since they have been threatened to be taken away by terrorists, 9-11 has meant to me that nothing in life should be taken for granted, and it is the small things that we sometimes forget about, that make it a pleasure to be able to call ourselves Americans.
—SGT Ted Jackson
What the events of 9/11 mean to me are many feelings and thoughts. One of those thoughts were of terror and sadness for the people who lost their lives. Another feeling is pride for the way we Americans showed resilience and more pride than has been displayed in some time. Above all these feelings I felt the call to duty and responded by joining the military and serving my country in its time of need.
—SGT Wade Taylor
September 11, 2001 was a day that will not and should not be forgotten. A lot of innocent people died that day, and a lot of brave public servants and volunteers lost their lives as well. We should never forget those brave souls. This day woke America up, and opened their eyes to recognize the men and women that protect and serve, and fight for our country. Those who have laid their lives down in support of our country are true heroes.
—SGT Brandon Crew
9/11 means a lot to me. I can’t recall exactly where I was at, but that day changed a lot of lives. I know a couple of firemen now that worked up there and they told me some things that happened up there on 9-11. It really makes me feel bad for those who lost their loved one. As a soldier, I want to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again.
—SGT S. Bethea
On 9/11 I remember being at Ft. Knox for my Basic Training. It was different being with the military and knowing it was possible that I’d one day go to fight in Afghanistan. Five years later, my National Guard unit was put on active duty and in January of 2007, I was in Afghanistan fighting for my country. It was an awesome experience to be there defending my county. To me 9/11 means that a group thought they could stop us only gave us a reason to once again defend our homeland, and I was able to be part of that. HOOAH!
I was in tenth grade then. I remember all classes practically grinding to a halt and all of us staring in open disbelief at what we were seeing on t.v. I looked around at my classmates and saw a mix of fear, confusion, and anger on their faces. I don’t recall being afraid. More confused really. Why would anyone do such a thing? It made no sense- they had to know who they had just provoked and the kind of response we would send.
As I watched the towers fall my confusion changed to a mix of rage and pity. Rage that they were successful, pity at the flood of hell-on-earth we would unleash against whoever had perpetrated this heinous act.
Over the days following, my emotions changed to a sense of righteous indignation- a send of “How dare they do this?” I had always considered the Army as a possible career, as I listened to the stories my father and grandfather told of their time in service. I knew this was my turn. We as a nation would unload punishment on these poor souls as had never been seen before and I wanted to be a part of it.
I was in high school, 9th grade, when 9/11 happened. We watched the 2nd place hit and the towers fall in Social Studies class. All of us in the class, despite our young age, knew that the world had changed and that we were witnessing history happen that day. From this point on, years of foreign policy ending war would have to change. America has been attacked, the Muslim extremists had achieved what many had thought to be impossible; they had attacked us on the continental United States. We now faced an enemy unlike any we had fought before, an enemy not defined by state borders or rule of law. This is an enemy that fights for his God. We now know what our governmental response was, the question is whether we have the intestinal fortitude to see it through.
—Lt. Bruce Lester
I was serving in the Regular Army with 3rd Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment (“Garryowen”) as a NATO peacekeeper in Bosnia-Herzegovina on September 11, 2001. We were due to return home in a matter of weeks and were therefore in the middle of trading places with an incoming unit from the 10th Mountain Division. I was getting ready for my night shift and the training of my newly arrived replacement when a representative from our headquarters came barging through the doorway of my barracks room. New of the 9/11 attacks spread across our outpost like wildfire, and my frenzied visitor was only one of so many who ran across our basecamp that evening to deliver it. These men were all incredulous and very much in shock; yet, I was not. My teeth just grit, and my fists clenched. Still, I could not bring myself to turn on the television and watch with my own eyes the undeniable evidence of that which I have known all of my life. It was a good half-hour
before I could bring myself to do so. You see, I have always known that the United States of America has enemies- so many foreign and (perhaps) many more domestic. While my fellow American soldiers around me were stricken with disbelief and dread, I stood not a bit surprised nor devastated. An aggression of this nature was ever inevitable. In my mind, I could only see cause to be a bit relieved, for I have always expected an offensive action of much greater magnitude- one which could have been nuclear, biological, and chemical in nature. To be sure, that potential still exists out there. Tus, I was more concerned with my country’s reaction to 9/11 rather than despair and grief over the details of the attacks. Many at the time had the audacity and gall to equate September 11 to Pearl Harbor! So, I waited for “the sleeping giant” of America to awake and rise to the occasion. Well, did it? Did it, really? All that I can tell you is that I
have been to Iraq three times and currently face the probability of going to Afghanistan next year, Indeed, it has been nearly 9 years since those infamous attacks, and yet we are still in Afghanistan and Iraq- the most noteworthy consequences of America’s chosen response to 9/11. This does not exactly mirror our World War II conclusion to the whole Pearl Harbor problem in days of yore, does it? Nope. Not even with the U.S. rebuilding of Japan do we even come close! Meanwhile, our cousins across the pond in the United Kingdom and we continued to breed our future enemies in our own back yards… Regardless of any of this, one principal 9/11 experience continues to make an impression upon me to this very day. Many (entirely too many) of my fellow Americans seemed to come to some ridiculous epiphany that they were indeed- lo and behold- American (as if they “knew” it for the first time in their lives). Well, where are all of those fervent
“flag-wavers” these days? I don’t know about you, but I never needed the disaster of an international act of criminal hatred along our East Coast to prove to me that I was American! I was there serving my country in a war-torn land when this Global War on Terrorism began, and I will still be there when it ends. The real question is- how will American let this all end?
—DGT Joshua R. Hanafin, SCARNG