One week prior, I began work at a new sales position after being a youth minister for two years. I remember being excited about this new position since the majority of our customers were based in New York City, Washington, D.C., and other cities on the East Coast. I had a lot to learn and needed to get to know the customers quickly.
One week later, my life, the lives of every American, and the lives of many across the world would change forever.
It was September 11, 2001, a day I remember like it was yesterday.
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, my radio came on. It was tuned to 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. Then the DJ’s were saying that a “small” plane hit the tower. It wasn’t but a minute later that they said it was a large commercial airline and a potential act of terrorism. I was in complete shock.
As I continued my drive to work, I listened in carefully to what was being reported on the radio. By this time, they had 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. I can only describe it as surreal.
As I walked into our small office, my boss and another co-worker were in standing there in complete shock. The co-worker was from the East Coast originally, New York City actually. She called her family back there but was having a difficult time getting someone to answer the phone. A few minutes later, the brother of my boss walked in with a small television. I remember the four of us huddled around this 13-inch television watching the events of September 11 unfold before our very eyes.
I remember walking back to my office 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. The only thing that came to my mind was – what the hell is going on?
My boss advised us to take part of the day off and go to our respective churches to pray. I drove to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church where I attended Mass with the entire elementary school and staff, along with a few others that came to the parish 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.
During the day, I received an email from friends who were going to hold a prayer service for our group of friends at their house that night. A friend of mine and I drove up to their house where at least 20 of our friends gathered. The television was on and all we did was watch the towers fall again. We began by praying the Holy Rosary, then the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and then we read from the Scriptures and offered up prayers for the victims and their families. As we continued our prayers, some friends began to weep for fear of more to come.
As my friend and I drove back to my home, we looked up in the sky and did not see one airplane flying overhead. The freeway we were traveling on lined 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.
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 Islamic extremism, had made itself known to the United States that day on our soil.
It’s a day that I will never forget. It’s a day I remember like it was yesterday.
On this day, the nineteenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, let us never forget what happened. Let us keep the memories of those that were lost in our hearts. 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 and the families that lost a loved one.