I clearly remember 9-11-01. My husband was an airline captain flying the Boeing 767 for a major airline. He had an overseas flight scheduled that night and after a quick coffee with me, he returned to bed at approximately 8:30 a.m., planning on trying to sleep for another six hours. I returned to my office to work in our small home based business. Within a few minutes, he ran downstairs and called out to me – “Come watch CNN, some idiot just flew a small airplane into one of the twin towers.”
I returned upstairs just in time to watch the second aircraft hit the second tower. My husband stated, “Oh, that’s just a replay of the first one.”
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “It looks like a different building.”
We watched together for a few minutes and then he said he needed to get back to sleep so that he could be in position to go to work that night. I continued to watch the incredibly confusing news event. No one seemed to know what had happened, or what was happening. Within the next hour there was a report of an airplane crashing into the Pentagon, and another aircraft down in Pennsylvania. At one point there were reports of possibly five or six aircraft either missing or down. No one seemed to know what was happening.
I sat there with my stomach in knots. My spirit said “someone has just declared war on America,” but I prayed it wasn’t so. Within a few hours, it was fairly clear that THAT indeed was exactly the case. It didn’t take long for the entire country to shut its doors to all further flights.
Later, when my husband got up to go to work, my employee knocked on the bathroom door, and yelled at him in her characteristic brash manner: “Don’t bother getting all dolled up, you won’t be going to work.”
He came out of the bathroom in disbelief. “What are you talking about?”
I replied, “The entire country is shut down, no one is going anywhere.”
“I don’t believe you. That’s impossible.”
I pointed to the television and the ticker tape running across the bottom of the CNN screen. “All airports are shut down. All flights are suspended across North America.”
He went to the telephone to call crew scheduling. The exasperated voice on the other end promptly told him, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you. All flights are grounded until further notice.”
He turned from the phone in disbelief. “What the…I don’t understand!”
I remember saying: “Someone just declared war on the USA.”
His reply was “you’re delusional.”
I just smiled, pointed to the television, and said “watch. The world is at war.”
“Impossible” he argued. “No one would dare take on the USA. This has to be some nut job or some complete mistake.”
We both sat there in disbelief for quite a while, as the scene replayed over and over. Our minds tried to make sense of what we were seeing by coming up with different possible scenarios to the what and why of the event. Eventually, I tried to go back to my work, answer routine phone calls and look after routine paperwork. But everything moved very slowly that day. My husband eventually went outside and starting raking the grounds – an activity that (still to this day) he often resorts to when he is restless or deep in thought.
The next few days were days of concern. What if this war came to Canada? Who is Al Qaeda? What exactly do Muslims believe? What would this mean for his job? Would the airline be affected? Were we safe? Were our kids safe? What would this terrorist organization do next? Life was suddenly knowingly unpredictable.
I felt numb for days and scared for months later. Eventually, the planes started flying again and my husband returned to work. I prayed for his safety and protection. For months, every day my mind made up different disaster scenarios. I was terrified that I would lose my husband in a similar disaster. Terrified that Canada would be next.
During this time, many people called to find out if my husband was flying that day. People were concerned for his safety. For months, many people assured us that they were praying for his protection. To say that I was happy that others cared so much was an understatement.
Many flight crews were stuck in hotels and strange places for weeks after 9-11. Once permission was granted for flights to resume, it took a good week or more of reorganization by the international airlines to get all the airplanes in the position where they needed to be so that regular flight schedules could be re-established. And many flight crews had to either find a way home on their own or pay their own expenses when they were stuck in an unfamiliar country or city. It was chaos for the entire month of September, and even into October. I was very grateful that my husband was not scheduled to fly until later that night. Many wives and families were not as fortunate as I was.
When you realize that you don’t have control over what you thought you had control over, one’s sense of rationality goes out the window. Suddenly you don’t know how to respond, and you don’t know what or whom to believe. A sense of panic sets in. Life looks very different. Things that were not important before suddenly become important. Things that mattered before are no longer of any consequence.
When I look back on these past fourteen years, I can say with certainty, that my faith took a giant leap during that declaration of war. I could no longer trust myself or those around me to control not only my world, but even the world at large. I had no choice but to look up. My spirit knew God was still in control. Only he knew the big picture. And I needed to put my trust in that confidence. After all, if God is in control, we don’t have to worry.
I know people say, why would God allow that to happen? No one knows the real answer to that, but my understanding is this: We are all given the freedom to choose good or evil. Whatever path we choose, there are natural consequences. God usually uses the natural world, or the law of consequence, to put his mark on events and situations.
Did any good come out of 9-11? Yes. Countries woke up and realized that it was time to stand up to the evil in the world on a global scale. Countries realized that the lessons learned in WW2 had been largely forgotten. Countries learned that they were not invincible. And people all over the world began to take a stand against evil. Good is worth fighting for. Good is worth dying for.
I pray that the lessons learned during this horrific day will never be forgotten. Let us never again be so pompous that we think we are invincible, or that we think that our nation is invincible. We need to remember. We need to re-tell our stories so that the world never forgets. We need to stand on guard for ourselves, our families and our country against evil. We need to say, never again, No evil shall assault me, my family or my country, as long as I can stand guard. God protect us. And God help us.
My prayer: “Dear God, as we remember this day, we remember all the lives that were lost. Please bring comfort to those surviving families that still grieve because they still remember. Bring comfort to the families of the soldiers who have perished while fighting to keep evil away from our lands. Help them to cherish the good times and to forget the bad times. Bring resolve and unity to the countries of the world to continue to fight the evil that threatens our homelands. Intervene and deter those who would do us harm. Bless those who work every day to protect us. Bless those who fight every day for our freedom. Protect Canada and the USA as we continue to join together in this fight against terror. May we never have to fight this fight on our own soil. God bless Canada, and God bless America.”