Sunday, September 11, 2011
And that was how I woke that fateful Tuesday. Mark was moving between the bathroom and the living room, getting ready for class, TV on. I laid in my bed, desperately clinging to my last remaining moments between sleep and awake. Through the door I heard a reporter say that a plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
My eyes snapped open. That kind of news has a quickly sobering effect. We kept a small TV in the room, so I jumped up and turned on the news, hoping to get a few more details than I was hearing from the radio. I woke Dereck and told him what was going on. We watched as events unfolded and had a hard time believing that an accident like this could ever happen. How could a passenger plane seemingly get that far off course and fly so low into Manhattan that it could collide with the World Trade Center?
And then the second plan came into the picture. Flight 175 hit the second tower. That's when speculation about all of this being an accident went out the window.
By this point, everyone's day was beginning. Classes on the campus of Bluefield College were in full swing. At that moment, I should have been getting ready to attend my own 9:30 class. Another friend, Dave, showed up at our room just as I was about to walk to the classroom. We headed across campus and talked about what was going on. The closer we got to class, the more we realized that we both just wanted to go back to the dorm and watch as history unfolded before our eyes.
So we skipped our morning class. We watched as the morning news anchors reported another plane hitting the Pentagon while another crashed in a Pennsylvania field. We watched as the talking heads went over and over the timeline of the tragic events of September 11th. We watched as it became clear who was responsible for these terror attacks on our own soil. We watched as first responders arrived on the scene, risking and even losing their lives to try and help the victims at Ground Zero.
We were shaken. More than 500 miles away from New York City, the students at Bluefield College felt a great deal of confusion, anger, sadness... we couldn't help but wonder what to do next.
Though I didn't have much of an appetite when lunchtime rolled around, I still made my way to the cafeteria. What I felt was really a lack of sensation. I felt a certain numbness, uncertain of how I should really feel. With everything going on, should I really be concerned with going to class that afternoon? Dr. Lyle, our campus minister who was eating lunch with us, told us that we absolutely should go to class.
His point was that we should carry on with our lives. Because if we were to stop, we would be giving the terrorists exactly what they wanted. Their intention was to grind our nation to a halt. But that didn't happen.
On 9/11, the United States may have been driven to its knees, but we shook the dust off and began to rise again. In a lot of ways, we're still picking ourselves up in the wake of that tragic day. But our spirit wasn't broken that Tuesday morning. We've learned to carry on, banding together to do our best to raise each other up in our times of greatest need.
God bless America, and may He help us to face the next ten years.