It is ten years since the unspeakable horror of September 11, 2001, but ask anyone what they were doing on that morning and they will tell you as though it were yesterday.
My daughter-in-law Sue, was nursing her baby: a second child; as the Twin Towers were hit. She had always wanted a large family, but that day she packed up all of her baby things to give away. She had decided she did not want to bring any more children into the world.
A friend was in hospital, recovering from surgery, but remembers pulling herself up on the pillows in bed, watching what was unfolding on the T.V screen, in horror.
In the local Honda factory people gathered around a car radio listening, trying to find out what was happening.
In my journal for that Tuesday morning, I reflected on how exhausting the day before had been. My mum was visiting with us from England and I was struggling to keep up with work while trying to take as much time as possible to be with her. I was feeling tired and guilty. I didn't write again until 4 days later:
Saturday, September 15, 2001
I hardly know where to begin writing about the events of the past few days. On Tuesday, September 11th, a day that will be forever remembered with great sadness, we saw unspeakable, horrifying events unfolding before our eyes on television.
Shortly after 9.00 a.m. Brenda (our daughter) called upstairs to say that The World Trade Centre in New York had been hit by a plane. I turned to a news channel and was still taking in the unbelievable sight before my eyes when a second plane hit the other tower. Shortly after that a plane hit the Pentagon and then we heard that a 4th plane had crashed in Pittsburgh.
The human tragedy that has unfolded since is almost incomprehensible. There are between 3 and 4 thousand dead or missing. Individual stories have been so heart rending. Many families still cling to hope that their missing loved one will be found in the rubble or in a hospital, even now. There have been tales of heroism and examples of great courage and dignity .
In this situation, where the grief and despair has been overwhelming, we have heard God mentioned more often than for many years. God; prayer, and scripture, have been a source of strength to the American nation and to many others. People have been stunned, shocked, confronted with the fragility and uncertainty of life...
Sunday, September 16, 2001
I sat in church this morning and thought of the seats in many churches that are empty because the people who sit in them normally, died last Tuesday. I also thought of the many people who may have been in church this morning because what happened that day, gripped their hearts with a sense of the transience of life and a need to focus on the Unshakable One.
I also thought of the people who died, some crying out to God with their final breath for forgiveness, but ushered into eternity like the thief who died on the cross beside Jesus, turning to God at the last moment.The day after the Twin Towers fell, I stopped at a gas station near Barrie to gas up my car. Ahead of me at the gas pumps were two olive skinned men, speaking in what sounded like a Middle Eastern language. The men were likely as Canadian as I am; an immigrant from England ; but--this felt so surreal--I felt scared. I thought then that our world had changed forever. Our confidence in our safety had been shattered. Nothing would ever be the same.
We will never forget the sheer magnitude of the horror of that day, or the individual stories of heartbreak. We will never again live in complacency, but the world refused to let the events of September 11, 2001, define it.
Maybe our daughter-in-law's subsequent decision to have two more children after all represents the determination of humanity not to be controlled by sheer evil.