December 18, 2017

I Still Struggle to Speak of 9/11

By Chaplain Mike

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I ate breakfast with the pastor with whom I used to work as an associate. We met at our favorite restaurant, the one we used to joke about as a “second office” for people in our church. When I was on the church staff, it was not uncommon for me to be there at least three mornings a week.

Skies were bright and blue in central Indiana that day, as I got in my car to drive the fifteen miles back to my office. Realizing that I had forgotten to give my friend something, I took a slight detour and drove by the church. The radio was on and I heard sketchy reports about an aviation incident in New York City. The announcer said witnesses reported that they thought a light plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.

Popping in and out of the church office to do my errand, I mentioned the strange report to the secretary and pastor, but didn’t think much about it. That changed as I got back in my car, drove south, and listened to further news bulletins about the unfolding events in Manhattan. By the time I reached my church, my associate had pulled the TV from the youth room into his office and was watching the horrific footage of the burning, collapsing towers. We spent the rest of the day in front of that TV, speechless.

We called a special prayer service in the sanctuary for that evening. Together, a few dozen of us watched President Bush’s address to the nation and then we prayed. As we were talking in the foyer later, one of my parishioners said, “Come here.” I followed him outside and he pointed to the heavens, the quiet, plane-less heavens, and said, “This may be the only time in our lives that we will see the skies empty like this.”

A couple in our church had a son in Manhattan. It was days before the phone system was repaired enough for them to talk with him and find out he was truly alright. Most of us were glued to the TV for days, watching the wall to wall coverage that preempted every scheduled show. I was scheduled to fly to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia on September 18, to visit our missionary friends, Andy and Damaris Zehner. On Sunday, a man in our congregation took me by the shoulders with tears in his eyes and said, “Please don’t go!” We all struggled to know how to talk about this with our children.

To be honest, there were moments when it all seemed like a media event. The fact that we saw and heard and interpreted everything through what was being broadcast on television, radio, in print and on the internet gave the tragedy a slight air of unreality. Most of us have seen enough bombs and staged catastrophes on TV and at the movies that it was hard to distinguish the spectacular images we were seeing on the screen from the latest blockbuster. I had to work hard to process the fact that this was real — my God! — this actually happened, and thousands of people literally died. This was not some movie about war, this was war, and it had come to our shores.

As that began to sink in, and then as the days went by, then the months, then the years, I have found myself unable to talk about September 11, 2001. I haven’t read books about it. I haven’t watched anniversary coverage. If footage from the terror attacks comes on some news report or documentary, I usually change the channel or leave the room. I don’t enter into discussions about it. I avoid thinking about it.

It is not that I was directly touched by 9/11. I did not know anyone personally who perished in New York, Pennsylvania, or Washington, D.C. I was not traumatized as an eyewitness or first responder. I have not yet had the privilege of visiting Ground Zero and surveying the scene.

But I am a human being. And as a human being in the image of God I value life. Valuing life, I detest all forms of cruelty and violence and wanton destruction of human life.

Let me say, I am not a wimp when it comes to handling emergencies, trauma, blood, and death. I deal with death almost every day as a hospice chaplain. I’ve watched many, many people take their last breaths. I am acquainted with grief, and though it touches me deeply, I am constituted so that I am able, somehow, to offer a kind of strength to those who are going through it.

However, I cannot handle intentional cruelty and savagery. I’ve been like this as long as I can remember. I recall reading Truman Capote’s novel, In Cold Blood, as a young person, for example, and I have never recovered from that. It still gives me nightmares. I have never taken pleasure in violent movies or shows that display human brutality and its graphic results. Over the past few years, I have actually forced myself to watch some of these shows, hoping to gain insight about why they appeal to so many of my fellow human beings.

Honestly, I still don’t get it.

So, it turns my guts inside out to think about being a captive passenger on one of those planes, a worker trapped in one of those buildings, a human being filled with such panic and desperation that the only option imaginable is to leap a thousand feet toward concrete to escape the inferno. To think of beautiful human bodies pulverized beneath the weight of imploding skyscrapers or mangled in the fuselage of a plane that plows into the ground at 580 miles per hour makes me literally want to vomit.

And then…to know that all this was no accident, but the result of depraved human design and intentional actions, sickens me beyond words.

 “… the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:4)

Me too. Deeply. With down in my stomach hatred.

Believe it or not, this is the first time that I have intentionally engaged in conversations specifically about 9/11 since the days immediately following the attacks. Ten years later.

And even now, I am doing it by sitting alone in my living room typing my thoughts. If you and I were face to face, I would struggle to speak the words. As it is, I can feel the tightness in my chest, the butterflies in my stomach. It’s hard to swallow. I’m fighting back tears. I’ll probably wake up a few times during the night with this on my mind.

Violence and cruelty sucks.

If I feel this way, 700+ miles away from Ground Zero, with no intimate connections to the event, ten years after it occurred, what must it be like, day in and day out, for those who were directly touched by the barbarity that day, who have had to live with wounds from the blunt force trauma caused by this inhumanity every moment since September 11, 2001?

I cannot wait for the day when these words come to pass:

“Violence will not be heard again in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders; but you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.” (Isaiah 60:18)

Even so, come quickly.

Comments

  1. These are some addiitonal memories about 9-11.

    1. I was shocked by the unity that existed after the event. It didn’t matter if you were black, white, etc… the country was united. I remember driving down the street and seeing house after house after house flying an American flag. Plus with uncertainity about additional attacks poeple rose above their differences to unite for a greater good. Sadly most of this was wasted and used in the Iraq war, But remember when people from both sides of the Congressional aisle sang God Bless America on the steps of the Capital? Can you imagine the Tea Party members doing that today? Singing with people across the aisle and joining for a greater good.

    2. I live, breath and eat history. I love it. I had always wondered what it was like to experience Pearl Harbor. September 11 gave me a taste, and I hope to never see another. I now understand why Pearl Harbor meant so much to the older generations. I collect historical newspapers and after the event I scrambled to collect or acquire the newspapers from around the country. They are in my closet today. Washington Post, Tiems, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun Times & Tribune, all major NY newspapers, Seatte Times & PI, SF Chronicle, LA Times, and the Dallas Morning News are the major ones I acquired. I also picked up several street extras for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    3. I also remember watching the first plane take off after the ban was lifted. For several days I did not hear a plane and poeple were scrambling to find alternative means of travel (for the record I believe 9-11 showed us why the US needs to develop an efficient and good passenger rail network. It drives me nuts when I see Amtrak being the target and people asking, “Why does it exist?”) But I remember just standing there watching a plane take off from Milwaukee. Others stopped and stared also. I realzied how much I took the airline industry for granted.

    • I remember looking up in the sky after the planes started flying again wondering if the plane I was watching would come down too… low flying planes especially caused me to pause…

      As mentioned before people in this age of post MTV-technology Savvy-give it to me now – just do not have the attention span as they did on the eve of WWII so I had no expectations that this singular event would permanently change people’s hearts. Also Eagle (the student of history that you are) remember that many in America were first and second generation Immigrants and faith played a great role in the everyday… listen to the accounts of pilots in B17s where they were saving their buddy or saying the rosary as the plane was going belly up, or when they were experiencing Pearl Harbor… different time, more sense of grateful of the little each had.

  2. Amen, Chaplain Mike.

  3. In the UK, I don’t think we fully appreciate the impact that 9/11 still has in America. Reading these recent posts on the subject makes it clear that the wounds opened done by the attacks are still not fully healed, and may never be so

  4. I don’t want to hear about it all week. The event and the years immediately after were painful enough. I don’t need constant, fresh reminders of the horrific details.

  5. I love the Scripture verse you mentioned~Amen! That Tuesday morning I was scheduled to be at my friend’s Bible study held in her home. Her husband was in NY in the second tower hit for a business meeting. She kept trying to contact him via cell phone and internet, but with no response. He was “murdered” as she says, not killed, but her fervent faith is still carrying her through in such a gracious manner that I just do not have myself. Seriously, the love of Jesus radiates from this remarkable woman.

    I cringe when I see images of that day and even the pics posted here of the towers is disturbing to me. I cannot bring myself to watch any of the coverage on TV either.

  6. I saw the second tower struck by a plane while at work, on television. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more sickening feeling in my life. It wasn’t fear, but more of a pain inside. I think that we as a nation experienced mass grief on a scale we had never known before, and hopefully, won’t have to experience again. Like CM, I was hundreds of miles away. I know Obama said it a couple of years ago, but I think it was Rudy Giuliani that originally stated, “Today, we are all New Yorkers.” We all felt that searing loss.

    Echoing CM’s sentiments, my prayer in the hope that we’ll never again witness such an event is, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus…”

  7. textjunkie says:

    I agree. It is hard to write or talk about it–I either am flippant and abnormally distant about it, or I freak out at the thought of what people were going through as they died and want to run screaming into the night. I did not see the videos of the bodies falling until the 5th anniversary of it, when even more of the footage was available on TV for some reason. I had heard about it but not seen it until then. That put yet another facet of it in a horrible spotlight.

    • I can still picture a photo I saw of a jumper. I can’t imagine the horror of the situation that would drive them to do it and to think about what was going through their minds… I hate seeing those pictures. They are real people. Not actors in a movie. Like Mike said, it seemed so unreal that it was happening. It looked like something out of a movie. But it was real. And I too cannot watch certain shows like Criminal Minds and CSI that show what people can do to other people. I used to be able to – and then I had kids and I guess maybe that made me realize just how precious life is.

  8. I do remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of of 9/11, and I remember the general feeling of anxiousness that existed during the period after that. Other than that, though, I can’t honestly say that I have much of a reaction to the whole thing. Perhaps it’s because I grew in a world that’s simply saturated by news. Whenever I turn on the TV or read a news site on the internet, I’m surrounded by news of events that can only be described as unspeakable horrors for those involved. I think that just in order to operate in a world where 24-hour news cycles are reality, you’re almost required to develop a sort of numbness to events. Maybe it’s just me.

    Honestly, I guess when I look back on those events, I don’t feel any particular emotion at the moment. Intellectually, I have sympathy for those involved, and I do regret that there is a generation of soldiers fighting in wars with seemingly no end. But on a day to day basis, it simply doesn’t affect me much.

  9. I remember sitting in our little red van while dropping our daughter off at a christian school and hearing about the attacks, I had no idea of the scope, and the commentators could not really articulate what they where seeing (I thought it was a small plane). So I hopped on Bart and headed into the office, I stepped out of the station and my project manager called me on my cell and asked me what the hell I was doing, I told her I was going to work. And she basically told me to get my rear end back on the train and go home, it was bad, really bad.

    So I rode the train back into town and took a taxi back to the house, it was eerie, Bart which was normally packed, was empty. Police everywhere, and everyone looked concerned, I still didn’t fully understand.

    When I finally arrived home I pulled out my laptop and turned on the T.V. to see what the fuss was about, I didn’t touch the laptop for the rest of the day, my PM called to make sure I got home and we both sat stunned at what had happened. I remember being in shock for weeks, I’m not sure I can describe how I felt that day. I remember walking outside and for the first time, and not seeing or hearing any planes.

    I’m still not sure how I feel, anger, pain, sadness at the loss of life for something so pointless. Frustration at the pointless nature of the whole thing, I’m not a violent man, and I know this goes against my faith, but I would have pulled the trigger on Osama without a second thought.

    I’ve been to ground zero twice since 911, and each time have been deeply moved by the tragedy of it all. So much hate, for what reason?

    -Paul-

  10. Thank you for your transparency. These same feelings are why I’m not sure I want to go to church next week to be conftonted by a 9/11 memorial service. I’m not a wimp. I know we can never forget. Hard to explain.

  11. I was in the shower preparing for my work day. As usual, I had the radio on to get me “pumped” for the day. But all I could hear was chatter. Once the water was turned off, I could hear the voices of the d.j.’s that were serious and scared. I turned on the t.v. What?

    As I was driving my daughters to school that day, the radio said another plane had hit the pentagon. It was the first time I was scared to leave my kids at school (and we live within a 10 mile radius of Columbine, when that happened). I drove to 7-11 to get my morning caffeine and it was in my car when the first tower fell. The feeling is still surreal. None of us at work that day were productive.

    My husband was hunting and out of any cell service, radio reception, etc. He and his buddy were driving down some gravel road high up in the mountains, when another car comes screaming towards them…..they have their windows rolled down and yell out, in passing, the world’s coming to an end……

    That evening, as my husband was finally home, my children safe and out of school, we watched the coverage, and then we watched the coverage some more. And at some point, I said…..that’s enough. This was in my prodigal days…..I can’t tell you I even had a thought to pray. Sad.

    • In Pittsburgh my wife actually went and got the kids out of school, along with many other parents…

  12. I frequently read some of the Arab news sites which are available in the English language. Many times I’ve read reader comments that 9/11 was an “inside job” or a plot masterminded by Israel. Of course that suspicion has been expressed by our own citizens as well. That also makes me want to vomit.

    • Speaking from my own limited knowledge of these things, I would offer the following argument

      1. 9/11 was a criminal act.
      2. Suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
      3. When searching for suspects, one must consider those who had the means, the motive, the opportunity and the chance to benefit from the results of the attacks.

      Given these three premises, the U.S. government, or more specifically, the military-industrial complex, the intelligence agencies, the FBI, NORAD, high officials like the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and so on, must be considered possible suspects. Any investigation of 9/11 that doesn’t examine this possibility and ask the tough questions is not a truly thorough investigation, but a whitewash and a cover-up. Recall that President Bush initially refused to open any investigation at all into 9/11. Wonder why?

      Recall also that no one was fired for the fiasco of 9/11, unlike after Pearl Harbor. Nobody got fired, nobody got blamed, nobody was held accountable. Why? Was it because they were following orders?

      Israel must also be considered a suspect. After all, who’s enemies are we fighting? Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, has engaged in false flag terrorism before. Read the book “By Way of Deception” by Victor Ostrovsky. Certainly Israel stood to benefit by U.S. troops taking out their Islamic enemies. Many of the strongest advocates for continuing war in the Middle East are Zionists, Christian or otherwise. It is what it is.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I think we’ve got a Truther…

      • Matt Purdum says:

        There’s no need for this. Slate.com is currently running a series of well-written articles on the rise of the conspiracy theories and the psychology and sociology behind them. Some FBI and CIA warnings were ignored in the weeks prior to 9/11, and the immediate military response that morning was confused, but in a government as large as ours, that’s par for the course. It’s simply wrong to slander the Israelis or the Bush administration as having any responsibility for these murders. We know who was responsible. For the most part those people are dead or imprisoned. 9/11 “truthers” have other agendas (like anti-Semitism) apart from “truth.”

        • Define “anti-Semitism.” If it means opposing the overall extreme Zionist ideology, held by both Christians and Jews, that Israel can do no wrong, then I plead guilty. If it means an ethnic hatred for all Jews just because they are Jews, then the term does not apply to me nor does it apply to Dr. David Ray Griffin, Dr. Steven Jones, Mike Ruppert or other 9/11 “Truthers.”

          I should mention that few in the 9/11 Truth Movement claim they know exactly who did 9/11. They know that the official conspiracy theory is bogus, but that’s far from saying that an acceptable alternative is available. If you really want the truth, you have to have a new, independent investigation, preferably with international oversight.

      • UGH….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, has engaged in false flag terrorism before. Read the book “By Way of Deception” by Victor Ostrovsky. Certainly Israel stood to benefit by U.S. troops taking out their Islamic enemies. Many of the strongest advocates for continuing war in the Middle East are Zionists, Christian or otherwise. It is what it is.

        Are you passing out copies of the Protocols, too?

      • Ben, maybe I just have too much common sense Midwesterner about me, but I find conspiracy theories such as those the “Truthers” advocate to be ludicrous and frustrating. The problem with such theories is that they have no evidence, and when you confront a believer with the fact that they have no evidence, you receive the answer that the government must have destroyed it or hidden it. You can’t win.

        I have read the Popular Mechanics pieces and others that debunk the debunkers and I think they provide reasonable explanations for every supposed “scientific” reason why some say the the official accounts cannot be true.

        There is plenty of reasonable evidence to believe that the attacks were planned and perpetrated by al Quaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden and others. Our government was unprepared, disorganized, and incompetent in this matter, not conspiratorial.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 was a “BOOB” attack — “Bolt Out Of Blue”, an unexpected and bold opening attack. That kind of attack works because nobody’s expecting it — more than that, nobody among the defenders even imagines such an attack is possible before-the-fact. Especially if it comes in the middle of an extended period of peace — the defenders are going to be on a peacetime footing, “unprepared and disorganized”, and will have a lot of trouble reacting fast enough.

          Only problem is, you can only pull off something like that ONCE. After the first time, the other guy’ll be expecting something like that. As Admiral Yamamoto’s gamble found out (and the Cold War feared), you need a first-round knockout for a BOOB attack to succeed in the long term.

      • Well if you’re going by who benefited from the US actions in the Middle East, I’m gonna say that Iran gained a heck of a lot more than Israel. Perhaps it was the Iranian Intelligence services behind it.

      • I was one my may back home from work. I had worked through the night in the lab, working on a problem. On my way in, I turned on the radio, and they were not sure what had just happened. Seemed to think at first a small flight plane had hit one of the towers. As I reached home, the stories were clearing up, the first tower had come down or shortly would. I went inside, turned on the TV and flipped through the channels looking for something that would just show me the feed without a lot of chatter. Think I finally found it on a home shopping channel (of all things). I watched it and worried. Worried about the future, worried about the folks still trapped, the emergency personnel, whether Chicago would get hit next.

        Later that night, we went and sat outside. Our home is under the Midway flight path and there was silence. It was eery. The first time after I saw a plane, I watched it and waited to see if it approached the Sears or Hancock buildings.

        I did enjoy the multi-faith memorials afterwards. Seeing clerics from so many different faiths was a nice affirmation of our belief in religious diversity.

  13. 9/11 speaks to the pain, hatred, and sin that permeate this world. The events of that day were an abomination. Sadly, thousands men, women, and children suffer through equally painful traumas every day but, because child abuse, spousal abuse, and poverty tend to take place behind closed doors they don’t generate the national, visceral outrage of 9/11.

    I do not intend to minimize 9/11 or those that were lost. I believe it is a day we should never forget. But I pray that as Christians we would feel that same passion towards the fruits of sin that exist around us every day.

    • +1

    • Remember though, 911 also shows the almost unbelievable amount of goodness that human beings are capable of. For every person who took part in hijacking those planes and flying them into buildings, how many people rushed INTO the buildings to save other people? On the plane bound for Washington, how many hijackers were there, and how many people stood up and said “No” and saved the lives of who knows how many people?
      On a smaller scale, how many people who could do no more, went and donated blood? How many people were there to help people try to find their loved ones? How many people were there just to hug a stranger?

      Human beings are wonderful creatures.. we really are!

  14. I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s reaction, but at some-level this is just weird to me. I knew two people (friends of friends) who died on nine eleven, one week later one of my best friends committed suicide. It’s been ten years. In the olden days when a spouse died women would wear black, and men a black armband, for year. Part of that was to give them time to mourn, but part of that was to say at this point it’s time to stop. It’s been ten years, I’m sad about my friend, but I don’t break down every-time I think bout him anymore.

    We need to move on.

    • Moving on may also involve becoming more and more committed to being outraged over such violence and working to stop it.

      • True, but all of this still kind of makes me uncomfortable. It just feels like over the top ethno-centrism. Put into perspective of the kind of violence people in other countries have had to suffer through since 9/11, particularly as a result of our response to 9/11 (Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan…)

        It’s not that I think mourning or remembering is inappropriate, it’s very appropriate, it’s just when this is the only recognition of a specific violent event on this site with no mention of anything else, it feels a little off to me.

        • Marie, I did a post about violence earlier this year and it is linked in this post. I thought the tenth anniversary of this event deserved special treatment on the site, but if you read my post, you will see that this is personal too. This is the first time I have been able to talk about 9/11, and since I happen to be the main writer, I decided to use this forum.

          As for ethnocentrism, nothing could be further from the truth. If this were a political blog, I would have written about all the events and places you mentioned and more. We make no effort to cover everything at IM, and our focus has not been on politics or world affairs.

          Also, I agree with you that we are spoiled here in the U.S. In my post on violence I put our relatively safe lifestyle in the context of a world where violence is constant.

          • Yes, I have no problem with what you wrote specifically today, I liked much of it, my point was that you seem to be devoting an entire week here to talking about a specific political event (and yes, 9/11 was by definition a political event) from one side, with no history of speaking about any other specific event from another perspective. If 9/11 isn’t too political, then how are decade-long wars that have affected thousands and thousands more, both Christian and non, than 9/11 ever did? I remember your post on violence and appreciated it, but it was very general.

            I guess I just can’t place these things into a neat little “political” box so easily. That sounds more snotty than I mean it, I’ve just missed seeing the church respond in a way that would ever challenge the loudest voices from the Christian right when it comes to foreign affairs. Perhaps it’s because I feel like I have been much more scarred by the reactions I saw in the church in the leadup to the Iraq war than I ever was by 9/11, but I think it’s a response that is sorely missing.

            • Marie, actually I am with you on much of what you say, and I think we would find much common ground in our views.

              As for this week, it was simply my personal decision to focus on a topic of interest and import to me. That’s kind of the way we do it around here. I take your words seriously that perhaps we should address these kinds of matters more comprehensively; you are certainly right that the church hasn’t. But whether we do so or not remains to be seen. I’m sure there are others that are having those broader discussions. If you come across some to recommend, please let us know.

      • YES. Heartily agree. Learning about 9/11 has turned me, for all practical purposes, into a pacifist. I was 13 when I saw it happen. I think it was a defining moment for my generation.

  15. David Cornwell says:

    After leaving the Methodist pastorate I went to work for an Aon subsidiary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Then I moved later from the subsidiary to Aon’s back office operations. It was here that I learned about the unfolding events of that day. Some kept track on internet news sites, others had managed to find portable TV’s. Worked stopped. One colleague said “Before morning our country will be at war.” It was early in the day, so we were without a clue as to how events would unfold.

    After the news of the Pentagon attack, a good friend shared with me that her son was a Marine stationed in or near D. C. Later she heard that he’d been sent to the scene to assist in cleanup and security.

    We were not yet aware that the company we worked for, Aon, had suffered a tremendous hit that day. It took several days to fully realize that 176 employees were killed.

    Either that day, or the next (confused time frame) someone organized a small group of us to go outside to the flagpole to pray. I was asked to lead in the prayer. I reluctantly agreed to do so, because putting a prayer into words at that time was very difficult for me. Words, however, did come for a brief prayer as we held hands out there in the sunshine.

    That evening at home I talked with my school teacher daughter by phone. I remember her words very clearly, as she said “Everything will change for all of us because of this attack. Life will never be the same again. Our country will never be the same.” These weren’t her exact words, but it is the exact gist of her thought. This became part of the framework of my thinking and emotions as the events of the past 10 years have unfolded.

    Last night on the history channel I watched a very good historical account of the Seal attack that ended the career and life of Osama Ben Laden. Interviews, insights, and intrigue followed. To deliver justice I have little problem with ending the leadership or even the life of that man. However one comment made me cringe. One insider to those events told of the tremendous “joy” he felt when he learned of this man having been shot, and that his last sight on earth was an American gun barrel in his face. For me as a follower of Christ, for one who has been called to make love the chief sign of discipleship, this is disturbing.

    We need to forever remember the promise of Isaiah 60:18.

    Chaplain Mike, thank you once again.

  16. Chaplain Mike,

    As someone who tends to approach problems using a mostly rational frame of mind, not a sympathetic frame of mind, I can say I don’t understand the sense of revulsion, the sense that 9/11 is something I can’t talk about. Maybe I should feel that way.

    I admire you for your sensitivity, for I think this is a more Christ-like attitude. In my own Christian circle, there was (and this has remained) visceral anger toward those responsible. “Let’s get the sons-of-bitches!” Jokes about nuking Tehran. Clash of civilizations. Support the troops. Support Israel. Armaggedon is near.

    Then, years later, when I found that steel-framed buildings don’t collapse because of fire, I was angry at the government: anger was the emotion, not revulsion, not a greater sense of compassion or sensitivity.

    As time has gone on, the anger has subsided. After 10 years, I’m not sure we need to continue to be burning with anger at those responsible. I think the thing to do would be to make sure that something like 9/11 will never happen again, and that the fossil fuel economics that led to the events of that day are reduced or eliminated as much as possible, so no more soldiers have to die so that all of us may consume ad infinitum.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      9/11 Truther plus No Blood For Oil…

    • “Then, years later, when I found that steel-framed buildings don’t collapse because of fire,”

      You are entitled to your opinion. But my father worked for US Steel for many years and I have seen the structural engineers reports – yes, because of the intensity of the jet fuel fire in an enclosed space, coupled with structural support beams that are hollowed and filled with water, those beams became like taffy and once the top ones went it was a domino effect as the weight increased when each suceeding floor failed….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You don’t need to melt those beams. All you need to do is blow through the fireproofing and heat them enough so the steel starts to weaken. When they become weak enough, the weight of all those floors above does the rest.

        But this won’t faze a Truther. (Or a Birther.) The fact we disprove the theory means WE Are Part Of The Conspiracy.

        The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

        • Interesting little factoid: try this sometime when you’re out at a campfire.

          When a fire is in its final stages, the smoke turns dark black. The smoke coming out of both towers right before they collapsed (at nearly free fall speed) was black. The fires were almost put out.

          At the core of each tower, something like 72 support columns extended upward, providing unbelievably redundant support. If the “pancaking theory” was correct, shouldn’t those columns have been standing? Why would they have become molten and melted down?

          I suggest you check out the work of Prof. Steven Jones of BYU, Kevin Ryan (formerly of NIST) and RIchard Gage, AIA (Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth).

          • Try this little experiment – set rubber tires on fire – tell me what color the smoke is as soon as you see smoke…..

    • Brianthedad says:

      I’ve been to your website, and I see you are a tech guy. I see you are a surveyor and are working on a civil engineering degree. I read your words and hear the self- assured, cocky, know-it-all attitude that comes with being 23. I’m sure I sounded much the same 20 years ago as I was starting my civil engineering career. You are entitled to your ignorant opinion, but I draw the line when I see someone with aspirations of being an engineer state so unequivocally that steel framed building don’t collapse due to fire. What a sad state of affairs for the future engineering community. I suppose the zionists infiltrated my textbooks years ago to plant the photos and research of failed steel members in fire, of steel losing nearly half its strength at 800deg, of timber beams actually performing better under similar conditions. Damn the zionists and all the other boogie men. I didnt realize the conspiracy went this far. Please stick with measuring out parcels of property and filing plats at the courthouse and steer yourself away from designing buildings, bridges and other structures. That rationality you claim to approach things with reeks of hubris, as many of you will ascribe to this reply.

      Anyway, whew! Pax.

  17. John Morgan says:

    Amen, to “Even so,come quickly.”

    I of course feel tremendous sadness for those lost, and those harmed; and I have great sympathy for the loved ones of those lost that day and following. At the ten-year point I am saddened and frustrated beyond words at how much other death, destruction, violence, war, hatred and fear-mongering has transpired. People more educated and eloquent than I have already spoken extensively, about “the squandered good will and unity” in the time following the attack. But now 10-years later we (U.S.) certainly have lost those things.

    I guess I wish we had more positive results to show for 10-years of being “forever changed” in this country.

  18. We had not been in Canada long when Sept 11 happened. We had spent the previous 8 years living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    When we left Saudi I remember telling my wife that the problem of the 21st century would be militant Islam. I had no idea then that it would come so soon. I had witnessed the shift in attitudes in the Arab world and the rise of anti-american sentiment.

    I remember the morning well, standing in the stairwell at work talking to a Russian that had been hired when I was, we had both come 1/2 way around the world to work. I looked at him and said, I hate to say this, but this has the earmarks of some pissed off Arabs. I was angered by it. I thought that I had left the wars and violence behind in the middle east. And now it was here in North America, a place that previously was a safe bubble.

    I was shocked, but not surprised. It was no surprise to me that many of the hijackers were Saudi nationals.

  19. I hate it that the unity we experienced for a short time after 9/11 does not exist to this day. It’s saddening…mostly because there will need to be another disastrous event (possibly, if the Lord does not return) for us to take another hard and real look at the Lord as THE solution to the world’s ills. Thanks for writing this. Though what you have written is true, it still makes me very sad to know that people will need another horrible jolt in order to know God. I am praying. You keep writing. 😉 cj for fncc

  20. I wrote about my experience that day in a previous post. Like Chaplain Mike, it is hard for me to see any footage of what happened that day, especially when the towers came down. In our work environment on the customer’s site we all stood around dumbfounded, watching on these huge monitors (they nrmally displayed NYSE ansd NASDAQ data) the towers on fire… the people jumping… I am not an emotional guy but it still brings tears to my eyes remembering that day…

    I think about the flight over Shanksville – those folks were brave because they chose to do something about their dilemna… I am sure by that time some, via cell phone knew something was going down. Some out of self preservation, others out of the sense of saving more lives elsewhere took it upon themselves to try and get control – or die trying… I think about the firemen and police trying to save people in the building and becoming victims themselves…

    I can’t distance myself from this… it is still very real to me, and I am sorry, Iwill never, ever understand this type of terrorism, to take so many innocent lives.

    But this event did not turn me into a muslim hater. If anything it caused me to enhance what I already knew about Islam from history. Those who I have known over the years after 9/11 who are muslim I tried to take a step further to really know thme personally, and through their faith how they tick. In some instances it was a pleasant surprise. In other instances I have been met with paranoia and suspision. But that’s me…

  21. Saw this video at wimp.com. Sure brings it home. http://storycorps.org/animation/she-was-the-one/

  22. I felt and still feelthe tragedy and deep evil of that day. And like so many others I remember clearly how the day unfolded at work with the TV on and work halted as we all were stunned.

    But I think having grown up overseas as an MK mitigated my response somewhat. I didn’t experience the sort of personal and national loss of innocence that seemed to accompany the reactions of many, probably in part because I’ve never felt fully part of the American ethos of national uniquenessand exceptionalism. It’s sometimes hard to convey this in the U.S. without being perceived as disrespectful or unfeeling, but be assured that is not the case.

    As a third culture kid, one has something of an outsider’s perspective in any nation. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel, just that I have been close to enough tragedy and sin and evil (wars, atrocities, coups, riots, mudslides, earthquakes) that I don’t expend all feeling on any one event. The real challenge is to live with the experience and the deep feelings and still choose to love rather than hate, to forgive rather than withhold forgiveness, to build and create rather than destroy, and to find peace with the only One who can give it.

  23. I like what you said, Chaplain Mike, and I also like what John said above. I did grow up in the U. S., and I love it, but through the years I have become less “innocent” about the America I thought I knew.

    On September 11, 2001, I was shocked to my depths at the horrors in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Everyone I knew was. But even on The Day, a friend and I said to one another, ” We have sown the wind, and we are reaping the whirlwind.” Or maybe, in a less exalted phrase, we just mentioned chickens coming home to roost. In any case, horrible as it was, many people whom I knew were not utterly surprised that the Arab world had finally found a way to get to us.

    Glenn Greenwald wrote yesterday, “If I could impose one media rule, it would be that following every column or TV segment featuring American political commentators … on 9/11, there would be similar recollections offered from parents in the Muslim world talking about how their children died from the pre-9/11 acts of the U.S. and its client states or from post-9/11 American bombs, drones, checkpoint shootings and night raids: just for the sake of “balance,” which media outlets claim to crave.”

    Right after 9/11, I admired and supported President Bush for insisting that we in the U.S. not turn our anger on Muslims. I wasn’t even really upset when he decided to attack Afghanistan — after all, Osama had joyously taken “credit” for the attacks. But then, for some reason, Bush decided to go after Iraq.

    As I looked further into the matter, I felt I needed to do something, make some gesture at least, to protest our attacking a country that hadn’t attacked us. (Yes, Saddam was slime, but so are vast numbers of brutal dictators around the world, most of who are our “friends.”) I ended up joining the Christian Peacemaker Teams (cpt.org) for a two-week “delegation” to Iraq to speak out against the war. On that trip , we met in Iraq with people from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, among others, and we got an education that isn’t offered here.

    Just two examples, from the WHO: In the 10 years of American-imposed “sanctions” on Iraq, more than two million children died because they couldn’t get the medicine, clean water, or decent food that our country blocked. We on the delegation saw children in cancer wards who were dying because our “sanctions” would not allow *anything* into the country which could be used to heal an Iraqi soldier. We leared that thousands of Iraqi women died needlessly in childbirth because (a) our sanctions had deprived them of their normal high-meat (mutton) diet, so (b) they were anaemic, so (c) they tended to bleed heavily during childbirth, but (d) they had no access to blood-clotting medicine because (e) such medicine *could* be used to heal Iraqi soldiers. Mind you, our sanctions didn’t hurt Saddam at all; he was fine. But the women and kids, totally innocent — not so much.

    I hope that in writing this I don’t sound ugly and insensitive to your feelings, Chaplain Mike, because in many ways I share your feelings. But I have to admit, even before 9/11, I had begun to think that the Arab Middle East was a ticking time bomb (which we all knew anyway), but also that when it exploded, it wouldn’t be all *their* fault. I was shocked and sickened when the attacks came, but there were other feelings with me too. Those feelings became even more mixed and troubled when I talked with the citizens in Baghdad and Mosul, in 2003, just before the invasion, and saw, underneath their courage and pride, their helplessness and terror. Whatever Osama, or Saddam, deserved, the 100,000-plus Iraqi civilians that we have slaughtered since then did not.

    To end I will mention that members of a church in my town, the Titus family, had a daughter who was a flight attendant on the second plane that hit the Towers. They were pacifists before 9/11, and they are still pacifists.They have created “The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund” at our local university, and are sponsoring the memorial event for 9/11 this year: http://www.urbanacitizen.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=5&ArticleID=158137

    • I can relate to this post by H. Lee and many similar comments. I am not a Zionist; I don’t believe in a “chosen people” and am aghast at the military and other aid the U.S. has provided to Israel over the years. Like Eagle, I’m an agnostic with a Christian past. By the way, Muslims believe that they are the “chosen” who are to present Allah’s last message to the world thru his last prophet. Anyone who has spent much time reading about Islam will know it has a violent past.D. They will also know that there are many secular, reasonable Muslims and that not all are terrorists by any means. Like Christians, or any other religious believers, it’s usually the fundamentalists among them that are the source of fanaticism. But Christians need to know that the characteristics of Allah are vastly different from the God worshiped by most Christians.
      Instead of reading about conspiracy theories, I have spent time reading ex-Muslim websites, primarily that presented by Dr. Ali Sina who is an ex-Muslim from Iran. I’ve also read about the various sects of Islam. It is not at all surprising that the Wahhabism practiced in Saudi Arabia would breed some of the terrorists who flew those planes. They were only following the will of Allah as they understood it. Does anyone believe U.S. support for Israel was a factor in the attacks? I certainly do. I don’t hate Israel or Jews or Arabs or Muslims. I hate terrorism, whatever the source, and I believe it’s past time to reign in foreign aid to Israel and others, except in the case of natural disasters.

    • Excellent perspective, H. Lee. Thank you.

    • Thank you. This is what is needed in Christian discussion.

  24. I would like to contrast some of the statements above with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. For all the one-sided view of that tragedy there was some evidence that the US may have provoked the attack and that we had “sown the wind, and we are reaping the whirlwind” as mentioned above. Many Americans could have adopted that idea at the time, but instead they became one body for the good of the nation. Nothing should provoke this kind of tragedy. Yes, we may meddle and we may influence, but we are also the first to be there when help is needed. That is the responsibility of a world power. If we don’t want that then we need to get off the top of the hill and let someone else take the spot. Unfortunately they may be a lot worse than we are.

    Extremist muslims hate us because of our decedence, our wealth, our slackened morality, not because we have attacked and hurt them (actually we supported the Bosnians – made up of a majority of muslims over the christian Serbs). They hate us because we support Israel. These are not the average muslim. And the average muslim will not stand against them.

    Do I agree with peace? – yes. Do I agree to be led passively to the slaughter …no.

    My thoughts…

    • Exactly.

    • Forgive me, but I am a little confused about your history. We are the first to be there when help is needed? Were we the first in Rwanda? Bosnia? WWII?

      Also, I’m sorry, but I cannot get behind your longing for the kind of “one body” thinking during WWII that led to Japanese internment camps, horrifying anti-Japanese bigotry, wildly popular fire-bombings in Germany and Tokyo, two nuclear explosions, and to cap it all off, post-war survey responses showing that the majority of Americans thought the U.S. should have dropped several more nukes on Japan before it was ALLOWED to surrender.

      Finally, this: “Extremist muslims hate us because of our decedence, our wealth, our slackened morality, not because we have attacked and hurt them” is a false dichotomy. Motivations for terrorism have always been and always will be complex, and pretending that Osama and others were not motivated in part by resentment of U.S. actions overseas is kind of silly.

      • Marie,

        I am sympathetic to what you say, and I understand where you are coming from in some of what you say above. Every war has its incidents where things could have been done differently. But one cannot forget what the other side was doing at the time. In World War II we fire bombed after years of the same behavior against London from Germany. It may not have been the best tactic but a lot of our soldiers were dying. And it may not have been our proudest moment, but you cannot look at that single event in a vacuum. As for the bombs and Japan – yes, they sadden me, we were trying to get them to surrender, to stop more unneccesary killing. But we also knew that they would fight all the way to the mainland, street to street, house to house, with lots of dead in civilians and soldiers alike. When it was all said and done we went in and help them rebuild, used our american dollars and much of what we taught them they took to become the strong nation they are today.

        By helping I am talking tragedy. Unfortunately like every country we pick and choose conflicts. Sometimes I wish we would stay out of all – we would then relinguish our role in the global stage… fine with me….but there are ramifications when you don’t continue to be strong.

        War is hell – but what would it look like if WWII Germany or cold war Russia had been allowed to continue aggression and be at the top of the hill today?

        As for our actions oversees… well I guess we will begin to see that be shared by other up and coming economic giants, China, Brazil and and India.

  25. September 11th still feels surreal to me. I was living on the west coast at the time, still in college. I had woken up early to write a paper and was messaged by a friend I hadn’t talked to in ages. I found out about the attacks, and listened to the radio as the towers fell.

    I’m originally from Boston and live in New York now. Yet, despite this, I don’t know anyone who lost a friend or loved on in the attacks. My friend’s mother was evacuated from Washington DC (she works near the Pentagon) and walked home that day. I’ve noticed the rectangular columns of light on a few September 11ths, although I’m not sure if they’re still doing that.

    I didn’t even know the towers existed until they were struck. They were just part of the New York skyline.

    I’ve gotten off at the World Trade Center subway stop. I plan to visit the memorial soon. Despite all this, it still feels as if this happened in a different country from the one I live in. I felt the same way about the September 11th attacks as I did about Oklahoma City or the bombings in Madrid or London in 2004 and 2005. In a way, the Madrid bombings are actually a little more real to me, as I’ve been in that train station and seen the reinforcing and bomb defenses that have since been placed there. Perhaps the memorial make the attacks more real to me.

    Because of the unreality of the events to me, I don’t have much trouble talking about them. I suppose I end up seeing them as simply yet another lump of preventable deaths that shouldn’t have happened. The fact that the deaths were the result of an attack is horrible, but the cause of the deaths does not, in the end, matter to the dead. I mourn them the same way I mourn the victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami or those killed in Japan in their most recent earthquake.

  26. I do not want to be political, as H. Lee said, there is another side in this.

    During my last few years in Arabia it was difficult to explain to Arabs why it was that Baghdad was being bombed for flouting U.N. resolutions but Israel was not having anything sanctions surrounding the Palestinian refugee problem. I had no answers. I just know that the attitude on ‘Arab Street’ towards the USA began to change. Frustration was at a high point.

    We saw it where I lived in the attack on Khobar towers, and security became tight. I remember having my vehicle checked for exposives. Somehow I knew that the problem would not go way unless the west had a change of viewpoint. And I knew things could get dangerous. So we left the kingdom for many reasons, but I thought things could get rough.

    So when 9/11 happened I was shocked at the audacity, but not surprised.

    In 2004 the Al Khobar Massacre happened, the compound where my son used to stay with a friend, and where my children saw their first hockey game was attacked, 22 killed, 19 of them foreign workers including the Swedish cook at a restaurant my wife and I had dined at.

    The problems in the Middle East are big, and anyone who goes in there runs the serious risk of reprisals. Yes, fundamentalist Muslims dislike the corruption of the west but will generally ignore it. However, if you get involved in the area, you are a legitimate target.

  27. I have read all the above posts. People tend to believe what they want to believe. With all it’s warts and scars I will still take America and Christianity over anything else. Yes we are spoiled here, but I don’t feel guilty about it. Be humble and thankful for what you have and try to be like Jesus.

    • I agree with you, Vern C, that I will still take America and Christianity over anything else. And I will put America first, before Israel or any other nation. How many Americans know that Israel has been sanctioned dozens of times by the UN and we have just ignored it? But we insisted on doing something about sanctions on Iraq and Iran. No wonder the Arab world sees us as hypocritical! That does not excuse their behavior, but one cannot help but notice that our actions in the Middle East have led to a reduction in the Christian population in the Holy Land and caused Iraqi and Palestinian Christians to flee their homelands. How very sad.