I sat at the kitchen table discussing with my husband, Steve, our busy day. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I asked Steve what time his meeting started. He said, nine. I turned to look at the clock behind me. It was 8:45. American Airlines flight 11 was thundering toward New York City. We were 60 seconds away from unimaginable turmoil and devastation.
My son, DJ, was an infant. He started fussing. Intending to calm him with a video, I flipped the TV on. The image of the North Tower on fire filled the screen. First reports indicated a small commuter plane accidently crashed into the tower. It made little sense, but how else could we explain it? This is America. Terror doesn’t come to our soil. Everything we thought we knew was wrong. And what we could never imagine was bearing down on us.
As a former EMT, my brain assessed the scene on TV, while I stood flipping through options of to save the most lives. I saw a plane on the right side of the TV screen. I actually gave a sigh of relief. A rescue. They could get people off the roof. Then it happened.
United Airlines Flight 175 plowed into the South Tower. An enormous fireball erupted. That plane hit the building. That plane just flew into that building. On purpose! I couldn’t form any other thought. I don’t know how long I stood there. When the process of thought returned, I realized DJ stopped fussing the minute the TV came on. As if his only reason for fussing was to alert me to the attack.
I left the room briefly. When I returned, I saw a split TV screen, on one side the towers burned, on the other the Pentagon. I gasped. What is happening? I felt God impress upon my heart to pray. Despondency cascaded over me. God, I don’t even know what to pray for. I felt God’s response. “Pray for my people I’m bringing out.” I dropped to my knees. I intended to pray aloud. I choked on words and just wept.
When Steve returned from his meeting, I went to our older sons’s school. Steve and I decided taking them out of school may scare them too much. The only target for terrorists in Kentucky is Fort Knox. We’re far from there. But I wanted to be the one to explain the attack to them. I wanted to reassure them. Pray with them.
In the school office, the secretary called for the boys. I did my best to explain things to them. We prayed and when I raised my head, I realized prayer re-entered public school. A small group of people gathered around us and bowed their heads, joining us in prayer.
Back at home, details of United Flight 93 came in. Those passengers took back their liberty. They voted on a plan to storm the cockpit. Even in the face of certain death, they upheld democracy. Americans to the end.
The reaming hours of 9/11 unfolded with shock, horror, and heroism. It was the worst day for America, but never was she more beautiful. Flags unfurled across the country. Our government sang “God Bless America” on the steps of Capitol. People flocked to churches, gave blood, and made plans to enlist in the military. I’ve never been more proud to be American as I was on 9/11. From the ashes we rose as one. May God forever bless the U.S.A.