09 September, 2011

Where Were You?

This coming Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Can you believe it has been that long? I know there has been a lot of talk about this already, and some of you may be tired of hearing about it. But for just a few minutes, I want you to remember where you were when you first heard. What was your first reaction? For just a few minutes, remember that the people on those planes and in the buildings were real people, with real families who are still hurting.

Here's where I was:

Sitting behind a table at school in Salina, Kansas, staring at a computer screen (I was studying commercial art/graphic design at a tech college). The teacher of another class walked through our classroom on the way to hers. She stopped and said, "I was just in the office and they had the radio on and a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center." What? I thought. What's the World Trade Center? Oh right, those really tall buildings they always show on TV shows like Friends so you know they're supposed to be set in New York City. Why would a plane crash into those? Isn't that what air traffic control is for? Surely she's just joking..... what's the punchline? No one in the room believed her. We all went back to our computers and whatever we were working on. The teacher shook her head, said "I'm serious," and left the room. 

A few minutes later, someone came into the classroom, I don't remember if it was the same teacher or someone else. "Another plane just crashed into the second tower of the World Trade Center, they're saying this is a war." No one breathed. Our teacher went to his office and brought out his little radio. It didn't matter what station it was on, they all said the same thing. How could this happen? How could anyone be that cruel? We just sat there, listening as the reporters tried to make some sort of sense of it. Sometime later, the reporters switched their focus from New York City to Washington D.C., saying that yet another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. A guy in my class suddenly came to attention, "My Aunt and Uncle work in the Pentagon," he said. Suddenly it didn't seem quite so far away. A fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Unrelated? Just a coincidence? No one knew. By the end of the day, I think we were all numb. No one knew what to think, or how to respond. How should we, in Kansas, react to something that seemed so far away? And yet, it was so close. This is all one nation, after all.

Driving home after school, I passed a gas station. The price of gas had gone up considerably from what it had been and there was a line of cars down the street waiting to fill in gas. What would this nation come too? What would happen to it? To all of us? Was it really a war? With who? So many questions. So few answers.

Slowly those answers began to trickle in. I remember watching videos on TV of people in some nations dancing in the street and burning our flag as they celebrated our down-fall. I still don't understand that kind of response. I remember watching the "Changing of the Guard"  at Buckingham Palace in London as they played our "Star Spangled Banner" instead of their own "God Save the Queen." 

The guy from class whose Aunt and Uncle worked in the Pentagon finally had answers as well. His Aunt's office had been on the side that was hit, her office was destroyed. But her husband's office was on the opposite side and she had gone to see if he had time to go to lunch together. Both were safely in his office at the time of the crash and were unharmed. The fourth plane, headed for Washington D.C., crashed in Pennsylvania, because the brave passengers had made enough phone calls to realize what was going on, and tried to stop it.

I've never really understood prejudice and racial hatred. Especially not the kind that would drive someone to deliberately crash a plane full of innocent people into a building full of innocent people. I have far too many friends and family members who have spent their lives serving God by ministering to people in countries in nearly every corner of this world for me to ever really believe that I'm any better than anyone else. Skin color, race, ethnicity; is all just diversity that makes us unique. Like flowers in a garden. Sure, you could plant an entire garden full of nothing but red roses, but where's the fun in that? The red roses loose their uniqueness when that's all you see. A garden filled with not only red roses, but yellow daffodils, pink carnations, white daisies and purple irises would be far more interesting. Each of us has a unique personality. We have our own likes, things that make us happy and personal preferences. No two people are the same. It's in those differences that I see the fingerprints of God! It's the differences that make life interesting. How dull would our lives be if we all looked, spoke and acted exactly the same? It makes me sad when people can't see the beauty in the differences.

Prejudice is nothing but fear. Fear of someone or something that's different from what you know. The events of 9/11 were designed in fear to create fear. But God calls us to love. "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." Matt. 5:44. That's not always an easy thing to do. It's much easier to lash out in anger. To respond to the hatred with more hatred. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his 1963 speech "Strength to Love," "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." With that statement, he closely reflects the words of I John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."

This is getting quite long, sorry about that, so I'm going to wrap it up with a song. There were more than a few songs that became sort of "anthems" for 9/11. Some were written mostly for the purpose of monetary gain for the writer/performer, others were written in anger and called for revenge, but this beautiful song by Alan Jackson, is purely a reflection: where were you? what was your response? Please watch, and remember to pray for the survivors and the families of those lost on that day 10 years ago.

p.s. - please feel free to respond with your own story from that day, I find that writing is cheap therapy!

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie, I did not remember that about the changing of the guard. I'm so glad you posted it. Also, I had not seen your blog before! I'm glad I found it. :)