Friday, September 08, 2006

I remember the day I saw pure evil

It was such a beautiful morning, the sun was shining, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue and it was crystal clear. I had a BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) leaders' meeting that morning, I don't remember what we were talking about or even what we were studying, I just remember that while we were meeting someone from the church came in and told us that the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane and that was all we heard.

It didn't sound bad at first because I thought of a small, private plane that had gone off course or something. I thought it was an accident, I didn't realize that it was deliberate. The BSF leader decided to continue with the meeting, which was a mistake because after awhile we heard that one of the Towers had collapsed and that the Pentagon had been hit and then we couldn't even think of anything else. Some of the women left because they had loved ones who worked in the Towers or near them. We tried to pray but there was too much going on for us to concentrate. The meeting broke up early.

When I heard that the Pentagon had been hit, I realized that we were at war. It scared me to think that we could be hit on our own soil. I knew that life had changed and we could never go back to the way we used to live before that day.

As I was driving, I cried and listened to the radio for news. I looked up at the sky and thought about how such an awful thing could take place on such a beautiful day, it was too beautiful for such ugliness and then I saw a plane flying overhead and wondered what were it's intentions. I thought about the passengers of the planes and wondered what their last moments were like. I became enraged as I thought about them being used as a weapon against their fellow Americans. How evil was it that man could take such an innocent and helpful tool and turn it into a weapon. As I drove home, I prayed for the safety of my daughters and my husband but most of all for the safety of my brother-in-law who was (and is) a pilot for a major airline.

When I got back to my house I turned on the TV but most of the channels were gone. We lost most of them when the Tower fell since the transmitters for the local stations were located on the Towers. So, I watched what I could and listened to the radio and read what I could find on the Internet. I did that until it was time to pick up my daughters. I watched with horror as people hung out of the building because it was too hot inside and as some jumped to their death. I watched in horror as I saw the video of people trapped on the roof, alive and still waiting for someone to rescue them. I knew that wouldn't happened and knew they would never get down. I watched and watched as the newscasters kept hope alive that someone might be pulled from the rubble. I remember thinking that seemed unlikely, how could they survive?

They didn't tell my kids about 9-11 at school, so I did. Many of the parents had come and got their kids, fearing for their safety. I didn't, I don't know why. I did afterward and still do (especially after what happened in Russia). My daughters were upset but not fearful, they didn't realize the implications. In a way I envied them.

I watched TV a lot over the coming days, I watched friends and family members trying to find their loved ones, it went on for day. It seemed to be the only thing on TV for a while. I became depressed and cried all the time, I cried for the people who lost loved ones, I thought about the people who were trapped in the burning building or the people trapped on the roof and I cried. I cried for the children who lost their parents. I cried for months after 9-11 and still do. I can't watch anything about that day without crying. This week has been rough.

Fear gripped me that day and hasn't let go. I know that God's in control, but that doesn't stop me from feeling fearful. I had a hard time flying to Phoenix recently and was sick the entire morning until the flight took off. It was the first time I've flown since 9-11, my husband and I were scheduled to fly to Seattle on September 14, needless to say, I didn't go.

But the thing that I remember the most, the thing that affected me for months afterward, is the realization that I witnessed pure evil. I know that it exists, I know that evil is out there but I've never had it thrust in my face like that before. It was appalling in its extravagance, its abundance, its ugliness and it depressed me and broke my spirit for many months. Evil exists and I saw it that day, that scared and sickened me.

I knew that God's in control, I knew that He is sovereign, I knew that I could trust Him and I heard many stories of people who were supposed to be in that building that day but in the providence of God, were not. I knew all this but I still grieved and I still felt fearful. I grieved for the families, I grieved for the people who were killed, I grieved for my loss of ignorance, and I grieved over the fact that I now live in fear of an enemy who could strike me or my family at any time. During rush hour traffic, in the mall at Christmas time, at my daughter's school, at my husband's job, in the subway or in a tunnel, when we went to the Empire State Building, and with the fall out from a dirty bomb.

Today, the fear has subsided and now its more like the other fears I have, its manageable. We go on, we live our lives and hope that it doesn't happen again but knowing that it might. Oh Lord, protect us from the evils of this world, is my prayer for my family. I think it covers all the bases.

Updated to add: When I wrote this I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed and I wanted to write something encouraging at the end because as a Christian, I live in hope and in the understanding that though He slay me yet I trust Him. But I couldn't, I was being honest. I gave you what I felt. But today (Sunday) in church, I felt what I knew, "that for those who love God all things work together for good." And that God will use it to strengthen us in our faith:

James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Thanks be to God that He encourages His servants to persevere when we face unspeakable evil, that we can rest in the knowledge that He will be with us during our fiery trials and that we will triumph in the end because He has triumphed over evil:
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
Today I took heart :-)

Updated again: Sarah read my remembrance and decided to write one of her own:

As tomorrow is 9-11 I thought I might say something about that day.
Well I was in elementary that year. I remember that sometime in the morning the intercom went on, saying something happened in new York. They, of course, didn't tell us, because they didn't want to upset anyone who's parents might work in the towers or near them. So as the day progressed many people got taken out of school. I remember me and one of my friends talking in the lunchroom, during lunch when not a whole lot of people where there. We had no clue what was happening, but we concocted our own theories. I remember mine. It was that some mad killer or something was in new York and was coming towards us and people were afraid that he might come and kill them. This of course was stupid, but what do you expect from elementary kids?

Well as little kids we were excited at the prospect of getting taken out of school, but my mom didn't pick me up so I was disappointed. But when she came to my classroom she was crying, so I asked what was wrong and she said the twin towers had been hit. I had no idea why she was crying about this because I didn't know the extent of the situation. When we got home and saw the news I was shocked, I couldn't believe people would do that. Commit suicide and kill thousands of people. To this day I still don't understand that. Many years ago me, my mom took a picture of the towers. As a memorial I keep it on my bulletin board as a reminder to mourn those that were lost, and to pray for their families.



  1. Pass The Torch said...
    It has been very interesting reading people's experiences and memories of 911. I remember many of the same things you mentioned.

    Pass the Torch
    Pamela said...
    I've read alot of 911 memories today. WOW. I'm looking forward to the carnival for more.

    by the way, I've discovered that those who have switched to Beta do not allow me to post a comment unless I do it anonymous

    -- hope you have some wisdom to share on that!!!
    e-Mom said...
    Thank you for expressing so many of the same feelings I had that terrible day, and which lingered in the weeks that followed. We live on the west coast, so there was a bit of a buffer, but not much.

    What's particularly poignant about your piece is that on 9/11 you looked square in the face of evil for the first time. What a dreadful a day that is. We have a very real enemy, and "he ain't nice." But praise God, greater is He who is within us, than he who is in the world. I try to remember to put on the full armor of God each and every day...
    Cathy said...
    Michele: your words echo how so many of us felt and feel. Last night my husband and I flipped on C-Span and Deena Burnett was speaking at St. Mary College. Deena is the widow of Tom Burnett- he was on board United Flight 93. A little background on Tom- he was COO and VP for a company. During the Q&A Deena responded to a question from the audience. She shared something she rarely talked about. A year prior to Tom's death he had started going to daily mass on his lunch hour. After going many many times he finally told Deena about this. She was alarmed and wanted to know why. Tom told her that he felt that he was being called upon to protect the White House. Tom believed it was a calling to run for a political seat of some sort. Tom made 4 phone calls to Deena from Flight 93. She said that on each call, Tom was "fact finding and quite calm". When Tom told her they were going to take the flight from the hijackers... She believed him. She knew her husband and knew that if he had put together a plan then it would work. She wonders to this day if Tom made the connection to what he felt God was calling him to do.

    I'm not sure why I just shared this with you.

    I just want you to know that you are not alone in your feelings and emotions and I will not forget.

    Heartfelt post.
    michele said...
    Thanks for sharing that Cathy, I hadn't heard that story and it was powerful! Some say that plane was bound for the Capitol and some the Whitehouse, I wonder about that in light of your story.
    Anna Venger said...
    Powerful memories. Thank you for sharing.

    And Cathy, thank you for your comment as well. In the midst of horror that we cannot understand, God is still in control. No man knows his time, but Burnett and the others on United 93 died bravely, defending other Americans. Or as I remarked in my review of United 93 last May, they "determined to be the good who refuse to let evil succeed by doing nothing." Amazing men.
    lrlwreath said...
    Powerful memories. I too have the "managable fear" and know whatever happens God allows and God is in control.
    Biker Betty said...
    How can we forget? It was so hard to just sit there and watch the destruction and not be able to do anything. I had just missed the first plane, but was horrified at watching the second plane crash. It seemed too hard to believe.

    Going thru Blogging Chicks. I "Remembered" and I also did a tribute to a fallen firefighter from the day.
    Malissa said...
    thanks for sharing
    e-Mom said...
    Sarah's piece is really interesting. Besides hers, I haven't read anything yet from the "young 'uns." Please thank her for sharing. *-)
    Bonnie B said...
    Those were two heartfelt pieces from people who were in New York at the time. I wasn't there so the magnitude of what you must have felt can never be known.

    Sarah-- your piece brought tears to my eyes-- such innocence and honesty-- and very well expressed I might add
    At A Hen's Pace said...
    Hi Michelle--Thanks for your post and for setting up the Carnival. It is so important to remember--my older kids were barely old enough and two of them weren't born yet. It was interesting to read your daughter's memories.
    Julie said...
    Your post says it all. And then to read Sarah's was a bonus. Another bonus, was Cathy's comment. I still get misty when thinking about 911. I probably always will. How can we ever forget.
    Karmyn R said...
    I am impressed that when the pentagon was hit, you thought "We are at war". My brain never functioned that far ahead.

    Another powerful post.

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