Some things you never forget.
I was working two blocks north of the White House when the Twin Towers were hit. From our building, we could see the Pentagon off in the distance. In the space of 51 minutes, three American jetliners were used as assault weapons of mass destruction against America.
When our receptionist mentioned hearing of the first plane crash, none of us recognized its seriousness or import. The sheer scope of what we would come to learn was a coordinated terrorist attack was unimaginable. The second tower was struck. Then the Pentagon was hit.
We soon discovered 9/11 to be another day of infamy.
As events unfolded, the Capitol was evacuated and all flights over the continental U.S. were grounded.
Evacuation. Everyone was on the road. Traffic crawled. Emergency vehicles growled. It was a surreal experience. A beautiful, sunny day. Driving at one-mile-an-hour. Everyone was polite. No honking. Drivers yielded to one another. A measure of peace on earth in the midst of tragedy.
The worst of events can often bring out the best in people. The one person who died on 9/11 that I personally knew was Barbara Olson. You may recall that she phoned her husband during the flight to tell him what was happening.
I met Barbara at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) in 2001, where she granted me a brief interview. She was as gracious in person as on TV.
At CPAC the following year, I was blessed to meet one of the New York fire-fighters who rescued so many victims on 9/11. His story is but one of countless examples of heroism for the rest of us.
Seeing Ground Zero
Just weeks before 9/11, I attended a church leadership weekend in New York City. During that conference, I enjoyed the city skyline and saw the Twin Towers on the horizon, never imagining their imminent demise.
A couple of years after 9/11, our church took a bus to participate in a worship service with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. On the return trip, we drove past Ground Zero, with its immense gutted landscape. So much devastation. So much loss.
It is very sobering to see what a few fanatical terrorists can do.
Courage on United Flight 93
My wife and I went up to Pennsylvania a couple of times to see the United Flight 93 memorial. The solitude of that pastoral setting in the middle of a large field fittingly enhanced the meditative nature of the memorial, which was relatively modest when we visited. A large cross-section of America paid its respects at each of our visits.
The resolve of the American people, especially when humbly beseeching the providence of God, is astonishing.
Let us all remember 9/11 and seek God’s salvation as we seek His will in our lives.