I remember 9/11 as clear as if it happened yesterday. I remember driving in to seminary that morning, listening to the morning show going on and on about the drunken antics that were being reported by then president George W. Bush’s daughters. They were becoming tabloid regulars at the time. I remember being in Greek class that morning, and then walking in oblivious to my theology class to a professor that was very subdued, somber, and reverent. We punted the regular discussion topic that day as he updated our class on the news that a terrorist attack had been made in New York City, and that a lot of people were killed.
After class I went to Chapel, and listened to an update from our school’s president about the attacks, that there was damage to the World Trade Center caused by airplanes, and he asked us to pray for those affected and to attend our classes so we could return to our studies. I remember how ridiculous it seemed to me to go back to class with so many questions on my mind. I called a friend in NY to ask which building was damaged. I remember what he said: “There is no World Trade Center. It’s completely gone.”
I headed home.
The initial reports were that around 50,000 people were believed dead. But this turned out to be miraculously false, as both buildings evacuated almost everyone on the lower floors. I don’t remember a single report of looting in New York on 9/11. I remember the NYPD, the FDNY, and Rudy Giuliani earning their place in legend for the way they stepped up and became the face of hope in tragedy. I remember how every airport was shut down, every police department was on alert, and every American flag in Dallas, TX seemed to be sold within the next 24 hours.
I remember how important it is during difficult times to be someone who brings people together and gives them hope. That’s what I remember.