In a few days, it will have been 15 years since the day that 19 jihadists changed life in America forever, and the media will probably be full of commemorative pieces whose questions are the same as this one: where were we on that beautiful almost-Fall morning, and where are we, individually and as a nation, headed as a result?
We moved here from Mexico in August of 2000. On the morning of 9/11, I was in New Mexico, and my husband was gravely ill. We were seeking medical care for him, and I was not sure he was going to live. It already was a rough and scary time, and I had many reasons to be on my face praying, which was what I was doing when a friend walked into the room and quietly stated what had happened. Like most Americans, I flipped on the TV, and could not believe what I was seeing. Just prior to this life changing intrusion, the following words had come into my mind: “Your family is all right.”
You see, my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephew lived in Manhattan. The two older kids were away at work and school, and the youngest was beginning her first day of the new school year. My sister was walking her to school, heard the first plane go in, and watched the second one go in. Those words re: their safety had been like a crawler that runs across the bottom of the screen of a cable news show, but until I turned on the TV, I didn’t know what to do with them.
Though I knew communications would be jammed, I called my sister and I believe providentially got through on the first try. “I’m all right,” she said, “Jay’s all right, and I have to go—Caitlin’s calling.” Never in all my life have I been more relieved to hear the sound of someone’s voice, and that is a morning and a prayer time I shall never forget.
For awhile, it seemed everyone sported patriotic memorabilia that has now been replaced with college football car flags, and church attendance was way up, which no longer is the case. And as could be expected, we slowly returned to our preoccupation with our own lives, and some became obsessed with the Kardashians.
While it’s true that no one can or should stay permanently in a post-disaster emotional state, we are reminded every time we go to the airport that there are some folks who want to kill us, and haven’t changed their minds on that score. And the rise of ISIS, beheadings and honor killings in our own country show us once again that we are vulnerable and must, as our Founders said so long ago for completely different reasons, be willing to, “with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” if we want to have a snowball’s chance of surviving.
Some will do so out of a state of joyful preparation, others only as a last resort. Still others will demand that those in the first two categories take care of them or perish. Some will be so politically correct that they will not face down the reality of jihad, its nature, and its intent. Some will become so fear based and bitter that they will choose to forget that God’s got this, and become consumed with the very terror the terrorists tried to inflict upon us in 2001 and beyond.
Recently while on vacation with my family, I overheard a man claim that 9/11 never happened! I resisted the temptation to insert myself uninvited into the conversation and say, “Uh, buddy, my sister heard the first plane go in, and saw the second one, as did my niece.” I doubt that it would have done any good, nor do I think my boldness would have been appreciated.
I do know this: we have a job to do whether or not we lose our heads, so let’s get after it. And, on 9/11, do take a moment to pray for our country, and thank God for the first responders who gave all to stem the tide of jihad.