September 11, 2012

I Still Remember

Lord,I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy...I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled.
~Habakkuk 3:2, 16a 

Eleven years have passed since that horrible, horrible day. Reading words I wrote in response all those years ago, fresh pain washes over me. I still can't comprehend the magnitude of what that day meant for our country. It's truly one of those "where were you when..." moments; the Kennedy assassination of our generation.

I was sitting at my desk, caught up in my daily routine, when I heard of the first crash into the World Trade Center. At first, I brushed the news off as just a “freak accident”. Checking with CNN, I quickly learned about the second hit. My work forgotten, I became engrossed in following the latest developments. As the hour passed, I could hardly believe the mass chaos and devastation unfolding as I was watched. Indeed, as I sat glued to the internet and the television, realizing the magnitude of this tragedy, my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound. I realized that life will never be the same again. Days passed. When I pondered this crime & the ramifications for our world, decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled at the evil which Satan had perpetrated.

Yet God reminded me that He is in control. Justice is His, and His will shall be done. Hijackers do not have the last word. Biological warfare does not have the last word. Terror itself does not have the last word.

My man & I had been planning a trip to New York. Our tickets arrived on September 12th, in a large white envelope with United printed large in the top left corner. We'd made reservations at a hotel that stood in the heart of the Financial District, unharmed but temporarily closed. We determined to keep our plans, and so we went on November 11th, two short months after the attack. The heavy stench in the air, tangible evidence that the City was still hurting.

We decided to visit Ground Zero on the last day of our trip.  I knew I needed to mentally prepare myself; I never considered that no amount of preparation would ready my heart. As it turned out, we got lost and without warning we were there, standing in front of Ground Zero in all its horror and stubborn glory. Tears filled my eyes immediately. Ash and debris fell around me as men worked to restore streets, water lines, and the subway system.  My heart was wrenched, devastated to see a parking deck full of cars covered in rubble. Cars no one was coming to claim. Looking at the hundreds of vehicles there, the loss became real to me. The statistics had been a number that didn't compute in my math-impaired brain. Yet I was faced with all these cars that weren't going home to a driveway, a garage, or a family.

Everywhere we went, people thanked us for coming. My Southern accent had given me away as a tourist. At the Broadway show we attended, the cast applauded the audience for our support. The Big Apple embraced us with a hospitality which, though not Southern, was warm and gracious...and more welcoming than almost anything I've ever experienced.

We stood in tremendously long lines at the airport. Watched as airport personnel rifled through our bags. Waited as my man was called aside for one of the random passenger searches. Stared in awe at the National Guardsman with machine guns standing ready. I was thankful, proud to be an American. Friends thought we were crazy to go, but I've never regretted that trip. It was truly a defining moment in my life.

*edited from the archives


Carrie said...

I hadn't heard your "where I was" story. That's pretty amazing that you went to NYC so soon after!

I was working in a law office as a receptionist at the time. An attorney rushed into the waiting room and turned on the tv and the staff all gathered together and watched in horror. The lead attorney closed the office and we all went home. It was an incredible day. (My best friend was scheduled to fly out of Dulles that morning and I spent most of the morning making sure she was not a plane! She wasn't. Her flight was canceled.)

Persis said...

Thanks for sharing this. I have friends in the Navy who went to NYC shortly afterwards. He was moved at the complete strangers coming up to him and thanking him for his service. (He was in uniform.)

We were having a craft day at home with 2 other Christian ladies. I was terrified, way too afraid to watch the news. But 11 years ago, I didn't understand the sovereignty of God over all things.

Christina said...

Thank you for sharing this, Melissa. We didn't know each other then but it's so nice to think of you walking the streets and making your way through various parts of the city.

9/11 is always a tough day here. I remember it as if it were yesterday. It's amazing to think that 12 years later, there is a new generation coming of age, who know nothing about that day. If anything, it impresses upon my heart the importance of passing on gospel truth to the next generation. Thank you for posting this. Love you much! May God have mercy on America.