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Remembering 9-11 as a Day of Prayer
Gregory J. Rummo
SEPTEMBER 11, 2002
It's not that any of us have forgotten the sights and sounds, the thoughts and the emotions that have been etched deeply into our national psyche. Nine-eleven has become the day of infamy for those of us born after World War II. Like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Americans will be able to recall precisely where they were and what they we were doing when Arab terrorists hijacked four airliners and turned them into fuel-laden missiles.
I was sitting at my desk when our bookkeeper walked in and announced that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.
“What!?” I shouted, getting up from my desk and walking into the main area of our office.
“I don’t know the details. I think it was a small plane,” she explained.
That answer was typical as initial reports of the first plane hitting the north tower filtered out. Even airline pilots who were airborne at the time simply could not imagine the enormity of commercial jets flying into New York City’s tallest skyscrapers.
In a riveting front page story about the events that occurred in our nation’s airspace the morning of September 11, 2001, the August 13 edition of USA Today reported that many pilots like Capt. Paul Werner who was seated at the controls of Delta flight 1989 figured “the planes that hit the World Trade Center must be small ones—not jets like the Boeing 767 he [was commanding].”
But it wasn’t long afterwards, when a second airliner hit the south tower, that we all realized what was happening.
I called my wife at home and asked her to turn on the television. Then I walked down the hallway to the offices of Merrill Lynch where a small crowd had gathered around a 13” television set in one of the broker’s cubicles.
That was my first glimpse of the towers shrouded in a hideous cloak of black smoke. The close-in shots that revealed office workers sitting on window ledges gasping for fresh air on the upper floors of the north tower coupled with the video footage of panic-stricken New Yorkers running through the canyons of lower Manhattan to escape the spreading dust cloud as the south tower collapsed offered us a brief glimpse through a window into hell itself.
I left the office around 10:00 A.M. for a luncheon appointment with the director of admissions and the president of Somerset Christian College in Zarephath.
“If you want to cancel we’ll understand,” they told me when I called to confirm that I was still intending to meet them. What better place to be than among brothers and sisters in the faith, I reasoned with myself. And what more important task is there than to join with them in prayer for our nation on such a terrible day?
Driving south on I-287 through Oakland and Ringwood the ominous dark cloud was visible on the horizon, spreading out like some evil monster, its hateful tendrils threatening to engulf everything in its path. The specter provided an eerie contrast to the lush green hills of New Jersey's lower Highlands on that sparkling late summer morning; a day when the sun rose into a cloudless sky and you could see for miles in every direction.
Suddenly the news came over the car radio of a third plane crashing into the Pentagon. This was followed several minutes later by the news of a fourth airliner going down somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.
God help us, I thought. How many more, Lord?
Arriving on the campus a half hour before my appointment I walked into the chapel, quietly taking a seat in the back.
One other person was kneeling in the front. It was a woman and I could hear her sobbing as she poured out her heart to God.
Her testimony mirrored the actions of millions of Americans on that day. I believe it is one of the reasons why we have been spared additional attacks and why our prayers must not cease.
As daily reports stream in from the Middle East of bomb-wrapped terrorists intent on murdering as many innocent men, women and children as possible, it has been a miracle that none of these monsters has been able to pull off a similar attack at a crowded shopping mall here in the US.
Let us cry out like David, who prayed, “Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men. Preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts, [who] continually gather together for war.”
As we honor the memories of those who died a year ago—many of them heroes who gave their lives so that others might live—let September 11 become a solemn day of prayer when we remember the importance of interceding before the throne of almighty God for our nation.
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