I was in eleventh grade in 2001 - sixteen years old. The biggest concerns I had in life were my boyfriend, upcoming cheerleading competitions, whether or not I could pull an 'A' in Calculus, and what I was doing that weekend. I was sitting in Ethics class with Mrs. Glassel teaching, and our prinicpal, Mr. Horner, came on the intercom and announced that there were rumors that a plane had crashed into a New York City building but he would keep us updated. Then about five minutes later he came back on and suggested we head to the televisions, not to panic, and to pray. Pray hard. This will change our nation forever.
My classmates and I headed to the history classroom - Mr. Clymer's - and found seats at desks or on the floor. Our teachers had brought in several televisions tuned to the various stations covering the event. We couldn't believe it. They were still saying it was probably an accident. And then, we watched in horror as the other airplane headed for the South Tower and crashed into its upper levels. We cried. We shook our heads in disbelief. We prayed but didn't know what to pray for. We held each others' hands and shoulders and hoped it wasn't true.
As the day wore on, we stayed put. We couldn't take our eyes off the burning, smoking, crumbling symbols of international cooperation. We gasped in awe and sorrow as we watched people throw themselves from the buildings in desperation - knowing they would die but choosing to take their death into their own hands. We wept together as the towers fell. We watched in stony silence as the cameras showed the New Yorkers covered in grey ash watching their workplace burn, their coworkers and loved ones fall, their sense of security disappear. We cheered and prayed for the firefighters who risked and sacrificed their lives. We discussed what it must be like for those trapped within the burning, disintegrating walls: calling their loved ones to say goodbye, settling their account with their Maker, counting down the minutes until their death or hoping against hope that they would be rescued.
In those days and weeks that followed, we were sad, angry, vengeful, and numb. People turned to God, or cited this disaster as evidence that He doesn't exist. America wanted revenge, restribution: war. We got it.
What did we learn from the events on September 11, 2001? Did America maintain its gaze upon God for guidance? No. But we shouldn't have expected them to. We learned that there are people that hate America - enough to kill thousands of its citizens. We learned that our nation's leader is human - he did his best and made some mistakes along the way. But God had George Walker Bush in office on 9/11/01 on purpose. This we can know for certain. I think what I learned is that our world will get worse before our Salvation comes. People are not going to grow nicer as the end of our Age draws near - they will grow more wicked, more hateful, more determined in evil purposes. But through it all, our hope is in Christ, for He alone is our help and salvation.