ten years later

i was 17, a senior in high school. i was in my car in the dordt parking lot after dutch class, waiting for andrew kroeze and dan de jong to get out of calculus so that we could head to unity for the day. i flipped on the radio, looking for some music. i heard a news blip saying, "planes crashed into the towers." i stayed on the station to hear more. i remember thinking, "this can't be real. how could this happen?" more details came about the crash at the pentagon. i couldn't believe it.

when dan and andrew got to the car, i updated them. i don't remember their reactions or the car ride to school. but i remember school that day. in every classroom (even the lunchroom), the tv was turned to the news. over and over again, the planes were crashing into the twin towers. the scrolling news at the bottom continued to update the estimated death toll. we managed to get through classes, not learning much about math and spanish as much as learning our world was now unsafe.

in the week to come, i remember huddling on the videorocker in mom's sewing room, tv remote in hand, eyes glued to cnn. i couldn't stop watching the scrolling news.

each time i flew, i was grateful for the added security. i knew it meant that we were safer, that weapons couldn't be making it onto the aircraft. i'm embarrassed to say that i found myself occasionally profiling other passengers, worried each time i saw them get up and move to the bathroom at the front of the plane. were they going to hijack it?

fast forward to friday, september 9, 2011.  i was listening to npr on the way to work. friday morning is story corps time, where one person interviews another (usually a family member) about some part of their life. today, of course, they were previewing stories told about 9/11. i teared up when a little boy broke down sharing about his grandfather who died in the attacks. i realized how remote my experience of 9/11 truly was. i only felt the horror second-hand, sympathy going towards those who'd felt the loss keenly, who are still feeling the loss.

on friday, the writing prompt i gave my students asked them what was the significance of 9/11 for them. i expected that they would know exactly what i was talking about, so i was surprised when a student responded, "i'm not really sure what happened on 9/11. was that the one with the planes?" these kids were 3 or 4 on that day. they don't know anything first-hand about it. another student asked, "how did the hijackers get weapons through the security?" he didn't realize that the current amount of security at airports was a direct result of 9/11. one student asked me to share where i was on 9/11. i shared my story, remembering conversations with my dad about where he was when kennedy was shot. had i become the adult with first-hand knowledge about significant historical events? honestly, i never thought it would happen.

i'm not sure what i'm trying to say. i just wanted to put words down for the sake of remembering those lost on 9/11. and i look forward to the day that we don't need to be fearful of anything anymore. until then, i will try, day by day, to surrender my fears and worries to God. he does not want us to live in fear, or act in fear. we are to live and act in trust and faith, and to be a blessing to those around us, whoever they are.


  1. This morning Pastor Herm's sermon was on Exodus 14 -- the defining moment for observant Jews even today -- the day the LORD delivered them from Pharoah and his armies, and showed both Pharoah and the people of Israel that He alone is LORD. He talked about the fact that this week, we're hearing a lot about 9/11 being a defining moment for our country, for North America, a day that has changed us "forever", according to many. Without denigrating the significance and horror of that day in our nation's history, he reminded us that as Christians, our true defining moment, the one that changes everything for all eternity, happened over 2000 years ago -- we are now and forever, people of the resurrection, guilty people whom God has proclaimed innocent through the blood of his Son, people of death who have been restored to eternal life.Although we as Americans may never feel as "safe" again because of what happened ten years ago in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, our security, as you said in your closing paragraph, is the LORD who has already won the victory!

  2. I remember having a similar conversation with my teacher on the anniversary of the challenger explosion. Sounds like at the very least you got a good conversation going.