It was a blue sky day
September 11, 2001 is the date which marks the turning point in modern history for many people. On this day, America found out what it is like to be vulnerable in a very real way. My generation grew up in the shadow of an elusive nuclear threat. We were trained to accept at a very early age that everything we knew could change in a blinding flash of light and all of us had some role to play in being prepared. Civil Defense shelters were everywhere and many families even had basement bomb shelters to prepare for survival in a nuclear attack.
But the attacks never came.
The shelters slowly just faded away and became relics of another time. The defenses we had built up were enough to give us a false sense of security. Treaties and the fall of the old Soviet Evil Empire assured us that we were indeed safe. Even rogue nations like Iraq could be bested and contained by coalitions of determined nations. This was a golden age of prosperity and growth.
All of that came to a crashing end on the morning of September 11th. An evil and determined enemy driven by an ideological fanaticism announced to the world that even the great America could be reached and dealt a blow. The planes that were used were representative of the technological and ideological advances of mankind. From the means of transportation to the systems that supported them, modern day jets are a miracle of no small magnitude. Less than a hundred years before that date, sustained air flight was still a dream and the idea that thousands of jets would be in the air that clear September morning was beyond anyone’s imagination. Not only that, but the means to communicate with and track those airborne behemoths was also a very large leap in technology during that same one hundred years. Finally, the development and distribution of the fuel needed to support an ever growing system of transportation was in itself a gigantic achievement for mankind. Think about it… prior to 1900, small vehicles would take weeks or months to travel the distance that these planes could travel in hours.
The great city of New York was a perfect symbol for the advances in mankind’s technological growth. The World Trade Center Towers were the ultimate symbol of man’s achievements. From the materials used to construct them to the methods employed, man showed that he could overcome seemingly impossible obstacles and build these gleaming structures. They truly represented a greatness that stood head and shoulders above every other generation before in regards to technological advances. The towers contained financial industries, government functions, business of every kind and most importantly people. People of many nations and cultures. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors.
Yet with all of her security and all of her prowess, America was vulnerable in a way that was inconceivable up until the moment the first plane approached the first tower. Films from that day show the absolute shock and horror of the people as they watched the plane crash into the upper part of the building. I can only guess at this, but it occurs to me that the events of that day were the most published public tragedy that had ever occurred. TV cameras were rolling the entire time and chronicled the events from the first to the collapse of the Towers. Other news crews focused on the attacks on the Pentagon and as the last plane crashed in Pennsylvania, more news sources rushed to inform the public of every detail.
Our innocence was lost forever that day. For a short time, we were united. Politicians who the day before were shouting at each other about the most meaningless things stood together on the steps of the capital and sang and prayed. People put up flags everywhere and talked to neighbors they had not talked to for a long time. There was no race, no creed, no color and only the slightest sense of hatred for Muslims and their religion. All of that would change within a few years. Today, we are more divided than at any time in out nation’s history since the civil war. Politicians use that anger and hated to gain power and divide us even further. But I have to always remember that we allow ourselves to be manipulated.
Worst of all, the world around us seems to be getting more dangerous. The Russians have been behaving like the old Soviet Union, the Chinese are trying to encroach on the freedom of their neighbors, North Korea and Iran routinely violate international law with impunity and places like Pakistan (which is nuclear armed) are on the brink of total collapse.
It will be interesting to see what happens to this country in the coming days and months. Our family has begun to pray more and seek understanding through the scriptures. My gut feeling is that while we were told that the end times would not be defined by an exact day and time, they are fast approaching. I hope I am wrong.
4 thoughts on “Fifteen years… but it seems like a lifetime”
Well written, Bob
As always, Bob, very well written. There is only one solace in these turbulent times and that is the certainty of Scripture and the King’s return. Being part of the ballistic missile defense in submarines (U.S.S. Lafayette, SSBN-616, 1971-1975), I can recall VIVIDLY the very real weight on all on the boat at times. It was always good to come home (and have it be there!), but that nuclear Sword of Damocles was ever present. Memories of that go back to 1st grade and the old “duck and cover” drills in the classrooms. New time, new threat, but the same old enemy.
Great article Bob and to the point as always.
I know most of us will always remember exactly where we were when we first heard the new. I had just walked into a golf course clubhouse to sign in. As I walked by a suspended TV I saw that CNN had a “BREAKING NEWS”…… I was accustomed to that heading and just walked on over and sign in. As I walk back by the TV, it was showing the 2nd plane flying into the tower…..!!! THAT GOT MY ATTENTION. I couldn’t help breaking down and crying there in the lobby. That night around 3 AM I couldn’t sleep…..my wife was awake as well.
We had been atop the towers just a year before…. I dug out my 35 mm color pictures we had taken in NY and we sat up in bed, looking at the pictures and cried and prayed for several hours. I recall telling my wife, ” OUR LIVES HAVE CHANGED FOREVER BECAUSE OF THIS”.
Thanks for all your articles and for keeping us focused on our past history. Hum, I wonder if they even talk about it in school these days. I have to ask my grandson in the 1st grade……???
How are you recovering? Back at 100% again I hope. I was home for Sept 11—I have been in Sweden all these years since 2002. I didn’t realize how I had escaped the aftermath in a way, because I sat and watched the documentary on 9/11 with all the video coverage by ordinary New Yorkers. I of course remember that morning, waking up to these horrific images. The fear and shock of the first day, the confusion and grief over the next few days. I felt that it was very sad how quickly everyone returned to their normal routine. The day after I had to drive north on a normally crowded and aggressive stretch of highway called bloody 17. Everyone was so polite and driving so slowly, it was surreal to say the least. I didn’t know it was possible and then, by Friday, it was back to normal, people cutting each other off, cheating in the merge lanes, honking horns, etc. It took less than a week for people to return to their selfish behavior on the road.
For me it was significant also because that was also why Anders and I decided that I would seek a visa to come to Sweden to be with him.
The documentary had a man who said it was the catalyst for his divorce—four days later. Apparently this was a wakeup call for many in this respect.
I think the change, as you wrote about in the feeling of how safe and what the major threats to our way of life are is an interesting perspective. I think that patriotism is disdained at the same time that history is not widely known or more importantly, understood.
We need to continue to pray for our country and our leaders no matter what happens. In the end, we know it has a happy ending, so we don’t need to worry about tomorrow.