…and the memory is just as vivid as if it were 16 days later.

The emotions have diminished over time, but the images & thoughts I had that fateful morning have not left my mind.

I was in my on-campus townhouse at Bethel College (now University) in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had a 9am Christian Theology class that morning, so around 8am I was up & getting ready. I turned on the news (just like my dad always did every morning– a habit I picked up, continued through college, and still do to this day) to listen to while I got ready.

I thought I was watching a new trailer to yet another doomsday action movie (because it was all the rage with movies like Independence Day & Armageddon being very popular). But then I realized that it seemed a little long for a commercial. And then I noticed it wasn’t actors talking about the images I was seeing, but the local news anchors I had been watching for the last several weeks of my sophomore year of college.

After a few more minutes it really sunk in. This was real – it was really happening. Two planes had just been flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City about an hour or so ago (it wouldn’t be until later that I’d find out about the other that was headed to the Pentagon). As they repeatedly showed the footage & continued to get updates in, I watched (all whilst still getting ready for class).

I headed to class, quieter than my usual chatty self. As I nestled in & watched my classmates pour into class (probably about 40 or so) I couldn’t believe no one was talking about it. The few conversations that were happening were the same old types of conversations I was used to hearing. My professor showed up & jumped right into the routine of class like it was any other day.

I raised my hand & he called on me. I asked if we could pray about what happened in NYC earlier that morning. NO ONE in my entire class knew what I was talking about. How could a room full of so many people not know? I then filled in everyone on the events, despite the fact that I still had yet to fully wrap my head around them all. And then we prayed.

As I left that class about an hour later, news was finally getting around. I walked by a student lounge near the mailboxes & the news was on. The lounge usually only had a couple of people in it at any given moment (if any at all), but it was packed (pretty much anywhere with a TV on campus had a surge of students in it as we all watched in disbelief). I remember stopping in the lounge, sitting on the arm of a chair & watching more of the updates on the events of the day with my fellow co-eds.

I don’t remember my exact thoughts – but I knew that things would be very different. Terrorism, for the first time in a long time, had left a very big mark inside our borders, on our home turf.

 

It’s easy to look back & see negativity, but I choose to look back and see the beauty that broke through the ashes & rubble. So many people banded together, forgetting their differences, and pushed through to help make a difference amidst the chaos. Actions that were meant to tear our nation apart instead united us. Most of us were too busy worrying, caring or helping (in some capacity) to be hateful.

So many things have changed over the past 16 years, many due to the fact that this event happened. But the one thing that remains is the fact that we are a nation united, especially in times of trials and troubles (as can be seen by how we have come together to support those affected by hurricanes). No matter what the force, from terrorism to acts of nature, there are always countless people coming together to support our fellow countrymen in some way or another.

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