Today you will hear many people recount personal stories about 9-11-01, the day that Islamic terror filled the skies with malice, hatred, and evil manifested itself in a few dozen hijackers that killed thousands. 

You will hear about the stories of heroism where men and women alike rushed back into burning buildings to save those that needed help.  Those that stayed behind to ensure that everyone got out.

My story is not like that.

I learned of the first crash while sitting in my AFROTC class that morning.  We learned of it quickly, but the teacher, an Air Force Captain, seemed to believe it had been a small plane.  I left class and remember that day being so amazing.  It was a cerulean blue sky with not a single cloud in the air.

The grass was still green and it was a perfect day in Northwest Indiana.  I walked across campus to a career fair that was being held that day.  I remember the various booths – everything from companies that built machines for the medical industry, to car companies, to the military and other governmental agencies.

“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Being in ROTC, I was just perusing at the time and hoping to score a few free t-shirts or plastic cups for my dorm room when I remember hearing something odd coming from one of the car companies’ display cars.  I reached in and turned the radio all the way up and heard the broadcaster panicking as the first tower collapsed.  I don’t remember running, but within minutes I was inside a building that was about a mile away and was rushing toward a television.  Someone had already turned on the news, although by then, the news was being broadcast everywhere you could look.  I watched in horror as the country I love, and my fellow Americans, stood helpless as the face of evil manifested itself that day in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Every single man and woman in the room came together.  Many cried.  Others couldn’t watch.  No one wanted to leave though because together we were stronger than we were by ourselves.  Color, sex, politics, philosophy, religion… none of it mattered at that moment.  I imagine everyone in that room wouldn’t have thought to identify as anything other than an American.  No hyphens, no exceptions, no additions.  An American.

Much has happened since that beautiful crystalline-skied day, but we still remember.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.

Psalm 57:1

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)


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