My Rememberance of 9/11
My First Reactions
It was like any other typical morning in the last 13 years. I woke up at the regular time, left for work at the regular time, and got to work at the regular time. While my office location had changed a few times during that 13 years, they were not really far apart. All of them were within a few miles of each other in central NJ.
As far as I can recall, the only thing that was truly different about the morning of September 11th, 2001, was that the sky was crystal clear. There was not a cloud to be seen in any direction. The air was cool and crisp, and ironically I thought: "This is going to be a great day."
With a travel distance of only 48 miles from my office to the World Trade Center, I was close enough to experience the same weather conditions as NYC, but far enough removed to be unable to experience the immediacy of the events that would soon transpire there.
When I first heard that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, I was hard at work, in the typical paperwork grind... issuing purchase requisitions, checking on equipment monitoring logs, collecting data for the next monthly report, etc, etc, etc. The usual boring crap.
My first assumption was that it must have been a small plane that hit the World Trade Center, like a Cessna or something. When I heard that it was a regular commercial jet liner, I could barely believe it. It was such a beautiful clear day. It seemed unbelievable to me that a commercial airliner could hit one of the two largest buildings in New York City by accident, in broad daylight, on a day like today.
We had no radio or TV in our office so I went on working. I figured that I would wait for better information. Then we started hearing reports that a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center. Things were getting very confusing, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just went on working. [There is a certain reassurance to working, to following a routine, and that's exactly what I did... I followed my routine.]
Before long, my wife called me and said that a plane had hit the WTC. I told her that I had heard about it, and that I couldn't believe it. After we hung up, I was still convinced that it must have been a small Cessna or a Piper. In my mind, a commercial jetliner was still out of the realm of possibility. So again, I did what a loyal and faithful employee does, I went back to work. Little did I know that my wife had put a VHS tape into the recorder minutes after she turned on the TV, and therefore recorded history in the making.
Then the people in my office started to become really emotional and agitated. They heard that a second plane had hit the second tower of the WTC. It then occurred to me that this was a terrorist attack. I told many of my co-workers that I believed it was Osama bin Laden, possibly working in conjunction with the Iraqis. It did not surprise me to hear later that both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein praised the perpetrators.
Not more than a few people have asked me how I concluded so quickly that it was Osama bin Laden. And for those of us who follow such things, the Osama trademark of multiple simultaneous attacks was most clearly demonstrated in the twin embassy bombings of Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Unfortunately, most people do not follow such things and as a result had no clue.
I can distinctly remember at how outraged I was at the time that terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Abu Nidal seemed to be able to elude capture for years or decades. I felt that our country not only appeared to be impotent, but WAS impotent. My fervent prayer was that we could finally put a stop to the madness, and start putting the terrorists in jail (or in a grave). Justice needed to be done, and who better to impose justice than the United States of America.
Of course we now know that the attacks of 9/11 were in fact perpetrated by Osama bin Laden. However, a link to the Iraqis has never been proven... at least not yet... not beyond a reasonable doubt. Someday we will know the truth. Someday we will know why Saddam Hussein celebrated on 9/11. Perhaps there is no linkage at all. Perhaps Saddam was merely a madman.
After it was clear what had actually transpired on that day, I remember discussing the days events with one of our Human Resources reps who happened to be on site. She was a Danish woman with a long history in the United States... not long enough to escape her European accent, but long enough to have been a personal friend of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. As we walked around the site in beautiful clear weather, instinctively she said: "We will always remember this day." And she was more than correct.
Like most people, when I got home from work I watched TV in horror and disbelief as we learned that both towers of the WTC had collapsed, that the Pentagon had been struck, and that a plane had gone down in Pennsylvania. Of course the news media focused on the scenes from New York, and as I sat there watching the pictures of Manhattan island with boats in the foreground, a prophecy from the Book of Revelation began to bubble up into my mind.
The prophecy is found in Revelation Chapter 18 and refers to a CITY which is called "The Great Harlot." Now, I don't want to mislead you and suggest that what happened in New York is a fulfillment of this prophecy. Actually, I believe that the fulfillment of this prophecy is very specific and refers to something else entirely. Yet, there are some similarities and I just could not get them out of my mind...
As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so give her a like measure of torment and grief. Since in her heart she says, 'I rule as a queen; I am no widow, and I will never see grief,' therefore her plagues will come in a single day-- pestilence and mourning and famine-- and she will be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who judges her." And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas, alas, the great city, Babylon, the mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come."
"Alas, alas, the great city, clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!" And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city was like the great city?"
Photos courtesy Associated Press
I must say that I was very impressed by the initial response of President Bush to this crisis. In fact, the response of most Americans from the President on down was inspiring. Of course the police and the fire fighters, the rescue workers and the steel workers at "Ground Zero" were absolutely heroic. Ordinary citizens poured out their feelings with donations of time and money, equipment and medicines, gifts and crafts. At such a moment, I was never prouder to call myself an American.
As for our military response, I supported it wholeheartedly. While I understand the comments of some who feel that violence is not the answer, I was disappointed by those who marched in protest. When confronted by those who would remind me that "God is Love," and "Jesus tells us to love one another," I can only tell them that if one seeks answers from the Bible, then one must be acquainted with the entire Bible. The Bible tells us that God has established the government and without God, no government can stand. It further tells us that those who obey the law have no fear from the government. Only the wicked and the evil-doers need fear the government. In Romans 13 (NRSV) we read:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.Actually, I like the King James Version which brings it out a little more clearly:
"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil... But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
So it was with great respect that I listened to President Bush call terrorists "evil-doers" and Osama bin Laden "the evil one." He was exactly correct. No political argument can justify the pre-meditated deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. (In my opinion, that includes Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the way). And now the sword of God has executed His righteous wrath on the evil-doers. Praise be to God!
That's the big question, isn' it? How could God allow this to happen? Was God judging us, like the prophecy about Babylon I quoted above? Was God angry with us? Well, I have to admit that I have no idea what God may be thinking. Since I am not God, to imagine that I know what He is thinking would be presumptuous to say the least.
That being said, we do have God's Word - The Bible - to give us guidance on what God may be thinking from time to time, and to explain the nature of things in general. Based on the teachings of the Bible, I have mixed emotions on this subject. While on one hand I think that America has been self-absorbed and blind to the sufferings of other people around the world (and probably needed a wake up call of some kind) I cannot hardly bring myself to believe that God would use Osama bin Laden as the tool of His wrath.
Secondly, I would have to say that "God IS Love!" It is not God's desire that any should perish, as the Bible tells us in 2 Peter, but that all should come to repentance. God is a God of life, not of death. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
On the other hand, the Bible in John chapter 8 calls the devil "the murderer" and the "father of lies." The name Satan means "The Adversary." He has been God's adversary since the creation. He wants to see God's creation corrupted and ruined. If God wants life, the devil wants death. If God wants joy, the devil wants sorrow. So let's put the blame where the blame belongs, on the devil.
Yet, God can stop the devil whenever He wants to can't He? Of course He can. So then, the question comes back around. Why did God allow this to happen? Well, it must be pointed out that in fact Man did this. It was not God and it was not the Devil. The devil may have inspired it, but it was Man that did it... Man who has been given free will by God. With free will, Man can choose to love or to hate. With free will, Man can choose to obey God or to obey the devil. It is really up to us to choose life or death isn't it? It's all about choices.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Light of the World. He came into the world to bring us light; to show us the way. But there are those who reject Christ, who flee from the light...
"And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda death merchants plot and plan in darkness. They do not come to the light that their deeds might be exposed. They plan death, destruction and murder. If they do it in the name of Allah, then Allah is not God, because God is Life and Light.
As a Christian, all I can say is... make the right choices. Choose life. Choose love. Choose God. Choose Jesus. Choose light rather than darkness.