On September 4, 2001, I began work at a new sales position after working as a youth minister for two years. I remember being excited for this new position since the majority of our clients and potential clients were based out of New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., and other East Coast cities. I had lots to learn and needed to get to know the clients quickly. One week later, my life, the lives of every American, and lives of many across the globe would change forever. It was September 11, 2001, a day that will remain burned in the memories of all who lived through it.
For me, it was an average day. I woke up early, ate breakfast, and got dressed for work. As I got into my Jeep Wrangler and started the engine, my radio came on. It was tuned into 107.9 FM KMLE Country. Immediately, I heard the disc jockey’s talking about a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. At first, I thought it was a prank since a week before someone had flown a powered parachute onto the Statue of Liberty (Do you remember that?). Then the DJ’s were saying that a “small” plane hit the tower. It wasn’t but 60 seconds later that they said it was a large commercial airline and a potential act of terrorism. I was in complete shock!
As I continued to drive to work, I listened in carefully to what was being reported on the radio, by this time they switched over to one of the major news stations carrying the breaking news. I will never forget it. It was the creepiest feeling I had ever felt. Sitting at one stoplight after another and looking at other people in the cars around me as they listened in as well. It was surreal!
I walked into the office. My boss and another co-worker were in shock. The co-worker was from the East Coast originally, New York City actually. She called her family back there but was having a hard time getting through. My bosses’ brother walked in with a small television a few minutes later. I remember the four of us huddled around this 13-inch television watching it all unfold. As I walked away for just a moment, my bosses’ brother yelled, “Oh No!” The first tower began to fall. It was terrifying! I walked outside and called my parents. They were as numb as the rest of us. Then, the second tower fell. Minutes later, the news reported that the Pentagon was hit. What was going on?!
My boss told us to take part of the day off and go to our respective churches to pray, if we so desired. I drove down to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church where I attended Mass with the entire elementary school and staff along with others that came to the church to pray. The priest who celebrated Mass told us all to pray and to pray hard. Again, it was surreal. Before going back to work, I stopped off at home. I remember being sick to my stomach. For the rest of the day, we sat there and watched in horror. How could this happen?
During the day, I received an email from my friends Chris and Kristin who were going to hold a prayer service for our group of friends at their house that night. My friend Sean and I drove up to their house where there were at least 20 of our friends gathered. The television was on and all we did was watch the towers fall again. There were no words for it! I remember being just numb and thinking how evil it all seemed. The one way to fight evil was to pray.
We began by praying the Rosary, then a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and then we read from the Bible and offered up prayers for the victims and their families. What was it like to be on those planes? What was like to see those planes flying at the buildings? As we continued our prayers, some began to weep for fear of more to come.
As Sean and I drove back to my place, we looked up in the sky and did not see one airplane flying overhead. The freeway we were traveling on lines up with some of the flight patterns for Sky Harbor Airport. We didn’t see airplanes because the FAA grounded all flights around the country. Many people were stranded for days in cities that were not their own. Do you remember that?
I went to bed that night very late since I could not sleep. I knew that the world had changed that day. Evil, in the form of extreme Islamic terrorists, had made itself known to the United States on our soil. The War on Terror was not far off. It was so disheartening.
It’s a day that I will never forget.
On this day, the twelfth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, let us never forget what happened this day. Let us keep their memories in our hearts forever. We especially pray for the souls of the emergency response teams that bravely entered the towers not knowing what their fate would be in the end. During your day today, offer up prayers for the souls that were lost, the families that lost a loved one, and for the continued safety of New York City and the entire country.