I vividly remember what I was doing that day, the horror and fear I felt. Michelle was at school with her students, some had a parents in the towers. As the day unfolded and the towers collapsed, our shock and deep fear grew. In a moment our collective innocence was stripped away never to return. The world was a different place now. Later that day, Michelle and I took it upon ourselves to do something to help cope with the shear enormously of what had happened that day. At the time, we had a cleaning and maintenance business. We traveled to each condominium complex and lowered the flags to half staff (no small feat since we had 26 complexes).
As we drove from place to place, we saw people like us in shock and disbelief. We drove into Sea Bright, a small shore town at the edge of Sandy Hook Bay. The New York skyline could be clearly seen in the distance. That is when we first saw it. Instead of seeing two towers all we saw was smoke rising from where the tower had been. We just stood there for a while trying to make sure that our eyes were seeing what was before us. It was real, it was personal. The next day Michelle found out one of her students lost her father in one of the towers. He called his wife and told her he loved her. That was the last time she ever heard from him.
Things changed quickly, our local military base was now locked down. Soldiers were guarding the gates with M16s where hours before this was a open base to all. I was sick for days after, I wondered if there was something sinister in the gray dust.
Time moves on and the years pass by, we moved to West Virginia and I started my new career at WVU. Each September 11th, the ROTC has a 24 hour vigil. For years now when I come to work before dawn. I go and pay my respects, as I approach the tears start to flow. By the time I get there, I can barely speak, I try to say thank you and that I saw the smoke from the towers. Most times I can only get out thank you before I am consumed it full blown grief.
This year due to a mixup I was ask to do something, a thing most would not think as important. I as asked to lower the flags on the downtown campus. This was not a job for me, it was an act of reverence. I bowed my head and cried again. Then lowered the flags like I did 17 years before. The pain was raw and the tears flowed hot.
I thought of all the people who died that day. All the brave men and women who ran into those towers, knowing this was a one way trip and went anyway. "No one shows greater love than when he lays down his life for his friends" John 15:13 ISV
As I wrote the verse above, I was reminded once again of the person who willingly died for me so I may live. He lived a sinless life and chose to die to atone for me and each of us. When I see my risen Savor, I fall to my knees, I will behold his nail scarred hands.
Then I will truly know the depths of his perfect love...