In the seven years intervening, we have recalled with both alarm and disbelief that date of attack which brought terrible reality, not just threats to our safe and secure lifestyle.
We know the events happened. We saw television news coverage of the billowing smoke from crashes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. We saw the Towers topple, heard confused cries, saw the devastation, observed with disbelief that such could happen in America, the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
We heard reports that a third hijacked airliner crashed into a portion of the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Our worst fears surfaced. Had this center of America's military operations been rendered completely ineffective?
With the brave action of some passengers on the fourth hijacked airliner, its direction was thwarted from its intended target in Washington, DC and the crash occurred in a field in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania near Shanksville.
There were no known survivors of the four jetliners. The 19 hijack- ers went to their deaths with a sense of accomplishment that they had done the deeds with martyrs' bravery and allegiance to their god. The passengers, no doubt, had boarded planes with confidence, with no thought that manipulations already in place would result in their untimely deaths that fateful day. Victims within the Twin Towers and others who died as a result of the travesties numbered over 3,000. Countless hours of rescue and recovery work resulted in airborne and contaminant afflictions that would follow victims the rest of their lives.
Nine/Eleven is an awful anniversary. Since that date in 2001, neither America nor the world has been the same as it was before.
We had rather not be reminded, but it is indelibly written in our history as a Day of Darkness and Doom.
To fight such an enemy as perpetrated these attacks on America on September 11, 2001 is a hard battle. Was Al-Qaeda behind it all—that dreaded terrorist regime that hides out in caves in the desert and plies its poison throughout the world? Were the enemies an army that could be confronted on a given battlefield and engaged in warfare which would eventually declare that the best side won?
Hardly so. But the battles began. And we are still in the midst of the war seven years later.
Immediately after 9/11, a surge of zeal and patriotism swept the United States. A turning again to the God of our nation was evident in songs, in messages, in websites, in patriotic gatherings, in churches, in town square meetings. America had rallied in the past to similar threats to her freedom. We could do so again. War was declared against the Taliban with forces deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Saddam Hussein was hunted and deposed, brought to trial and found guilty. The efforts to find and bring to justice the world-wide leader of terrorism continued. Osama bin Laden became the most wanted, the king of the terrorists, the person to find and depose at any cost.
America passed the USA Patriot Act, which was drafted by Representative Frank James Sensenbrenner on October 23, 2001, passed in the House on October 24, in the Senate on October 25, and signed into law by President Bush on October 21, 2001. The name of the act is an acronym standing for its major aims: "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act).
Erection of memorials is under way in many places. Many, still in the building process, are geared to solemnly remind Americans of the fatal 9/11 invasion. The Freedom Tower in Manhattan, now being built, is to be one monument to the toll the day had on our sense of safety and freedom. At "Ground Zero" in New York City, pictures and memorials tell the story of the heartache that came on a bright sunny morning in September, 2001.
I'm sure you, as I, have read survivors' reports, accounts from persons who narrowly escaped with their lives, and lived to tell the story of fear and an about-face in their own lives. One such story is by Kyle Crager, who descended from the 71st floor of the World Trade Center and lived to tell the story. He described himself as having "a cushy office high over the streets of Manhattan, a view of the Statue of Liberty, a fast-track career." But all of that changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Speaking at churches, schools, colleges and community events, Kyle Crager now quotes lines from the 17th century English poet, George Herbert: "Thou hast given me so much… Give me one thing more, a grateful heart." And one of his rallying cries uses words from C. S. Lewis, English apologist, minister and writer:
"God whispers to us in our pleasures,
Speaks to us in our conscience,
But shouts in our pain:
It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Anniversaries dredge up fearful memories at times, as is the case with 9/11. But the event can, as it did with Kyle Crager and others sharing survival, give one more thing: "a grateful heart."
c2 008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Sept. 11, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.