By Chip Sekulich, Chaplain TwelveStone Health Partners
Memories (Good and Bad) can be great reminders of the faithfulness and goodness of God across the span of our lives. Memories also motivate us toward prayer, thanksgiving, and praise. They may also act as tormentors that drive us to re-live pain, remorse, regret, or the shock of serious loss. Good or bad, memories overtime can get cloudy or fade away, while others are etched like a photo on a steel plate in our minds. The memories that never seem to leave us (good or bad) should always serve to move and motivate us toward better things.
On September 11, 2001, I was serving in a Christian School ministry in Southeast Georgia.
- At 8:46 am, East Coast time, Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City- news goes out that there has been a tragic accident.
- At 9:03 am, Flight 175 strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center- it is obvious that this is an intentional act of terrorism.
Considering the seriousness and uncertainty of these attacks, many parents rushed to schools and picked up their children as the events of that day continued to unfold.
- 9:37 am, American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
- 9:59 am, the South Tower of The World Trade Center collapses in 10 seconds after burning for 56 minutes.
Heroic Passengers on hi-jacked United Airlines Flight 93 decide to fight back and storm the hi-jackers. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett, Jr., told his wife over the phone that “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” Another passenger—Todd Beamer—was heard saying “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll”. Flight 93 never reaches its intended target and crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Tod’s daughter, who he never met just turned 20.
- 10:28 am, The North Tower of The World Trade Center collapses after burning for 102 minutes.
For those of old enough to remember, September 11, 2001, we can never unsee those images or the emotion of those terrifying moments. So, what can we learn from this very difficult historic event? How can it motivate us in a positive manner?
At this moment, let us pause to pray for the families, co-workers, and friends of the 2,996 people (From 78 countries) that died on that day and those who have been forever impacted since.
To support the TwelveStone community we are gathering stories from that time and talking about it—another great way to keep their memories alive and help us to manage our pain.
Here are just a few:
On Sept 11, 2001, I was at home with my 2 kids (ages 9 months and almost 4 years), watching the TV thinking “this can’t really be happening”. I received a call from the hospital where I worked letting me know that I had been placed “on-call” in case any of the injured may need to be flown to surrounding hospitals across the country. Remember…at the time we thought there could thousands of survivors in need of care. We feared that the hospitals in New York and Washington DC may be at full capacity. Unfortunately, there were so few ultimately rescued from the wreckage (only 18 people), that this was not necessary. I cried for days for the families of the dead and missing, and for the heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice to save others.
I am not sure if you have had the opportunity to watch the National Geographic special called “9/11: One Day in America” on Hulu. I was touched by one man’s story in episode 6. His name is Chuck. He was a former paramedic living in NYC recovering from a life of drug and alcohol abuse. He explains how he had no intention of helping at Ground Zero. He was fearful and selfish, but somehow found himself in the middle of the debris saving another person. The best part of his story is how he gives God all the glory. He knows that God used him, a broken, sinful person, to do an amazing thing. I try to remember his story when I think I don’t feel qualified or worthy of being useful to God. It reminds me that God has a history of using flawed people to accomplish His mission.
Thanks for reminding us to remember….
Thank you Chip for this email. I remember just being in shock and going through the rest of the day with a feeling of disbelief. I was working in a LTC facility. I remember having to go to an office supply store that evening to get something for a child’s school project and everyone was just kind of quiet.
I’ve been to NYC several times since 911 and have been able to visit the Memorial and Museum. It is an amazing experience that describes what you’ve said below perfectly. Its full of sad memories but also of so many stories of hope, patriotism and people coming together to care for others without consideration of self.
I appreciate your email honoring and remembering 9/11. I wanted to share with you a poem that my grandfather wrote in the few weeks following 9/11. He was a great author, and his poetry always holds fond memories. He had a way with words that was rare, and he made you feel a part of the moment. I am not a big FB kinda person, but I posted this on my FB this weekend in honor of fallen, the heroes, and my grandfather. I just wanted to share it with you because I feel it is just as relevant today as it was that day.