My first class of the morning was at 9 am. I was glad for the extra hour to get ready before heading out during my Junior year of college. I spent the morning exercising, studying, and dressing without any thought of contact with the outside world. I actually made it to class a little early. The first one in the room, in fact. A few moments later, Zack came in. I didn't know him well, but at the time he was dating a friend of mine. He had spent the last hour at the campus snack shop watching the news channel's live account of two airplanes flying into a couple of buildings. That was all he said with a chuckle. . . as if it was a staged scene from a movie. "Ummm, wouldn't people have died if a plane flew into a huge building?" I asked. He just said, "Oh, yeah, I guess so." Now, Zack wasn't a terrible person, but he wasn't thinking either. I wonder how many twenty-somethings neglected to realize how that moment would change millions of lives. Well, after class ended we headed to a chapel hour at our Christian university. There the seriousness of this day was realized. Our classes were cancelled and prayer hours were set up for groups to gather. I don't know anyone in New York or Washington so I headed out to meet my friend Tabitha for lunch. We met in her room, but when I arrived she was have a deep phone conversation. . . She doesn't usually ignore plans she has made so I was concerned and confused - then I saw her tears. She ended her phone call somewhat reluctantly and shared her story with me. . .
Tabitha's father is a pastor in New Jersey and was scheduled for a meeting of national pastors at the Pentagon THAT MORNING. Noone had heard from her father for hours before a plane was known to have crashed into and through the Pentagon. Tabitha had been talking to her mother and of course her father would have reassured his wife of his safety had he knowingly survived such a catastrophe. As Tabitha and her family wonder about the safety of this pillar of their home, he sits in a meeting in a building some miles from the Pentagon where his meeting had been relocated at the last minute. To my knowledge, there was no outside contact during the meeting which lasted for many hours. My heart was aching for my friend. I had no idea what to say or do and had not experienced a loss of anyone very near to me. Late evening the good news arrived that Tabitha's father was safe and had not been in an attacked building. Praise God from whom all blessing flow!
Another memory from that day which is very clear in my mind is my roommate Jasmine's reaction to the attack. Jasmine had lived in Alaska her entire life and has great pride in her home state. Because of the physical distance from the continental U.S., I was shocked at how deeply she felt the wound of the attack on our country and the lives lost although none were her friends or relatives. I have great respect for her love for this land that we each should appreciate more. I found that my focus was on moving forward and keeping life "normal" in order to minimize the "deer in the headlights" syndrome I was seeing around me, but I may have been a bit calloused compared to my compassionate roommate.
I remember asking my mother and others about when they heard of JFK's shooting, but I never thought my lifetime would bring another tragedy of a magnitude where every one remembers their circumstances.
God Bless America (although we may not deserve it)
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