I was driving in the car with my daughter. I needed to take her to a well check at the doctor's office. Lyle had been in Europe for a few days already and I was pretty tired. It was the beginning of the school year and I had three children in three different schools and a baby. I was doing a lot of running around and spending a good deal of time in the car.
After I dropped the 4 yr. old off at preschool, I was rushing to get to the doctor with the baby. I rarely listened to the radio in the car, but for some reason it was on that particular morning.
I was at a stop light.
The announcer said something to the effect of: "Breaking News from New York. A plane has hit the World Trade Center."
I listened, puzzled for a second, then I thought, "How tragic." Small planes have hit buildings in New York before. I imagined a single engine plane nicking the building and falling to its demise. I wondered if anyone on the ground was hurt and whether anyone could have possibly survived.
The announcer said minutes later, now as I am driving on the parkway: "An explosion in the second tower has been reported. A plane has hit the second tower!"
I began to feel sick to my stomach. At that point it was obvious this was not an accident.
"What on earth is happening?" I thought with a very lonely feeling inside.
I turned the car around when finally the report came announcing a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. At that point, I couldn't even think. I drove directly to the rectory of our parish and rang the doorbell, baby in tow.
The priest looked at me standing there in tears at the door. He opened the door and let me in. We watched the footage on the TV together with his secretary, and we prayed.
I was scared. I knew people who worked in Manhattan and in the Pentagon. The news was reporting that these events were due to a Muslim extremist terror attack.
My husband was away -- in the heart of Muslim unrest in Eastern Europe. There was no way to call, no way to check on the safety of loved ones and friends. It was a moment of complete trust that the Hand of God was with all who were affected by this tragedy.
I heard from a dear friend that night that her husband had left that very section of the Pentagon 30 min. before the plane struck the building. He had been in a meeting there that morning and knew several of those who were killed.
New also reached us that another close friend had been in the subway below the towers. He had gotten out to safety just minutes before the towers crumbled. His life after that experience could never be the same.
I hadn't heard from my husband at all that day. I knew things were locked down world wide, but I also knew that he wasn't in the best region to be an American after an attack such as this. Who knew if there would be uprisings against Americans in other parts of the world. Who knew what else may have been planned, or worse, what fanatics would decide to do in a rush of enthusiasm after seeing such a display of evil?
Finally, he called. He said he was safe and he assured me that their location was well protected. He would try to call everyday until they were able to get a flight out. That would take a couple of days.
From that point, the panic lifted, but the sadness hung very heavy.
My country had been attacked.
My thoughts harkened back to the attack on Pearl Harbor. News didn't travel in a flash the way it did on September 11, 2001, but I can image that the heartache, panic and sorrow felt exactly the same when the new of the attack reached the American people. I can also imagine that the desire to regain what was lost through patriotic sacrifice was also the same. 9/11 is our generation's Pearl Harbor, and many a hero did rise to the occasion to defend their country's honor after that infamous day.
I don't like revisiting these memories -- and, I didn't even lose a loved one in the attack. Nonetheless, it is necessary to remember and to pray.
My prayers go out and have done so for the past 9 years for all those souls lost on that day and for their families. May such a tragedy never occur again -- may we today have the fortitude and resolve as a nation to remember, and learn never to allow the works of evil to be tolerated, accepted, or disguised by political expedience.
And, as a tribute to those who were sacrificed on that day by this atrocious act of terror, may we all work together to ensure a mosque never be erected near their memorial at Ground Zero.
Please join me in saying this prayer today:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
(available at EWTN)