Reflections on 9/11

Sep 11, 2009

Richard Gotthardt

The following is from Shawn, who shared this on our Chrio email group. I thought that it was so powerful and well-written that I wanted as many as possible to read it.  Amen, Shawn.  Here it is:

Eight years ago today, I had just wrapped up writing a story about

Michael Jordan making an NBA comeback.  It was the big national story

of the morning, and as the national news writer at a local TV station

it was my job to be all over it.  It was the kind of story I’d spend

my morning expanding throughout the 4-hour newscast.  It would run

multiple times.

But it didn’t.

At 5:46, we got word of a fire inside one of the buildings at the

World Trade Center.  Live images were already pouring in on the

satellite feeds.  We scrambled, like the rest of the world, to figure

out what was going on.  Minutes later, we started to hear reports that

a plane had crashed into the tower.  We didn’t know why or how, but a

plane had actually crashed into the tallest building in America.  Like

most of the world watching live at that time, we all thought it was

some tragic accident.  Then minutes later, at 6:03am Arizona time, I

watched as a plane, barely visible on screen hit the 2nd tower.  The

huge fireball the came next shook me.  I was six months into my career

in news, and had already written hundreds of stories of destruction,

carnage, murder and mayhem.  I was already starting to become numb to

it.  But, that moment changed me, forever, as it did the rest of the


It’s almost laughable, that my first thought was to wonder what kind

of computer malfunction could possibly direct planes into those two

buildings.  Was there some kind of catastrophic failure at air traffic

control?  That fleeting thought lasted about 30 seconds, before it

dawned on me, as it had or would for the rest of the world:  human

beings had intentionally done this.

The next hours at work were a blur.  I don’t remember much.  But, one

memory sticks out.  When the first tower fell, the newsroom screamed.

A woman standing next to me yelled, “Another plane hit the tower.”

Others agreed.  The people around me couldn’t comprehend what had

really happened, even though they were seeing it with their own eyes.

The tower was coming down.  I’m not sure any of us were equipped to

see how depraved humans could be.

Unlike, a lot of my co-workers, friends, and relatives, I wasn’t angry

in the weeks to come.  I didn’t and still don’t condemn Islam for

making 9/11 happen.  History is riddled with people and groups using

the so-called tenants of religion (even, and maybe especially,

Christianity) to lend credibility to killing untold numbers of

people.  These prophets of doom prey on disenfranchised people,

promising them salvation or righteousness. They convince the most

vulnerable people in any given society that violence is okay by

promising some eternal reward.

I find it interesting and incredibly motivating that Jesus spent his

time on this earth ministering to the same people.  Instead of

preaching violent rebellion, he fed them.  Instead of promising future

reward for doing his bidding, he healed them.  And, I can’t recall one

instance in the Bible where one of the people Jesus helped strapped on

a vest of explosives and walked into a crowded marketplace.

So, on this day where we mark a tragedy, I’m also giving up thanks to

my Savior for showing me a different way to fight the terror we see.

It’s a way that I know will only come to full fruition upon his

return, but one he calls on us to work toward right now.

So here my prayer for the day:

“Dear God, Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Show me where my time and money are best spent helping the same people

your Son helped. Guide my heart and my thoughts to help people see the

love you have for all men and women.  Let that love help transform

hate wherever it lives.  Let it heal long-standing wounds.  Let it

cover our fears and ease our doubts.  Amen”

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