This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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That Fateful Day
Eighteen years ago, America was changed in the course of an hour. Today, we remember how the events of September 11 have impacted the world as we know it. Likewise, we honor the memory of our lost loved ones.
Without God and you, we would be hopeless. May we never forget that.
September 11, 2001. Millions of Americans set out for work and school on a morning that was supposed to be like any other. Unbeknownst to the people of New York, Virginia, and the rest of the nation, America was about to be changed forever. Under the order of Osama bin Laden, Islamic terrorists belonging to Al-Qaeda had hijacked several airplanes.
The first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Firefighters, police officers, and civilians from all walks of life watched in horror. Almost 20 minutes later, a second plane crashed into the South Tower. Both buildings, once standing like beacons above the city, were now smoldering. Many people across the nation witnessed the second plane crash, via television. While the first impact was thought by some to be nothing more than an accident, the second made it clear to many that this was a deliberate attack.
America Watches in Horror
President George W. Bush was sitting in a classroom with elementary school kids in Sarasota, Florida, when he is informed about the first airplane striking the North Tower. Residents of New York City watched as people trapped above the impact sites were driven to make a decision. In the intense heat, many of them stood on the edge of the buildings, waving distress signals. Some of these people, after bearing the intense conditions for as long as they could, made the ultimate decision to jump.
Everyone below watched in tears as some holding hands, while others acting alone, began to fall. Little did the nation realize, however, that the attacks were not over. At 9:37 a.m., a third plane was flown into the west side of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Then, at 10:03 a.m., the fourth and final plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This plane – Flight 93 – never reached its intended target (thought by some to be the White House), due to the heroic actions of its passengers.
“I Can Hear You!”
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were the worst to have ever occurred in history. Nearly 3,000 people were killed during the attacks, and many died later due to injuries and cancer. Many brave firefighters and police officers were killed during the attacks, and many also died when the twin towers collapsed. One of these officers was James Patrick Leahy, who died while leading many others to safety.
Standing in the remains of the towers at Ground Zero, with one arm wrapped around a firefighter, President Bush addressed the mourning nation. Speaking through a megaphone, Bush said, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
New Wars Arise
As a result of the September 11th attacks, three new wars were launched: the Iraq War, War in Afghanistan, and War on Terrorism. The Iraq War ended in December 2011, just months after the death of Osama bin Laden. Also occurring in 2011 was the start of the Syrian Civil War. Syria, to this day, remains a powder keg, with multiple factions fighting for control.
In 2012, Islamic terrorists struck again, this time at a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. As a result of this attack, one US ambassador, two CIA contractors, and a USFS officer were killed. In 2014, another military campaign began in Iraq, following the rise of ISIS across the Middle East. Today, that conflict continues, as do the War in Afghanistan and the War on Terror.
Remembering Those We Have Lost
So many lives were taken during the events of September 11, and many more have been lost in the conflicts that followed. All events in our history must be remembered, but rather than dwell on the horrible memories, we should, instead, turn that energy toward focusing on the good ones. The loved ones lost on September 11, or in any of the conflicts that occurred after, will always be cherished by our country.
I like to think of the United States as one big family. We are a nation that has been through thick and thin, and no enemy – whether domestic or foreign – has been able to break us. The majority of us acknowledge God as our strength and hope, and though we will never be completely safe from tragedy, God has given us strength to endure, time and time again.
The Terror of 9/11, The Tragedy of the Cross
Following the September 11 attacks, Reverend Billy Graham led a prayer service at Washington National Cathedral. Addressing a country in mourning, he stated, “Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the Cross. For the Christian, the Cross tells us that God understands our sin and suffering, for He took upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ our sins and our suffering.”
“And from the Cross, God declares, ‘I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pains that you feel. But I love you.’ The story does not end with the Cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the Cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil and death, and hell. Yes, there is hope.”
Our hearts go out to the victims of September 11. We also owe tremendous gratitude to our veterans, firefighters, and police officers. Without God and you, we would be hopeless. May we never forget that.