Revisited – 9:11: A Personal Reflection


 

I wrote this for last year’s 9/11 anniversary and, since it’s been getting so much traffic on my blog recently, I thought I’d bring it back again this year. I can’t think of anything more appropriate anyway. This is in memory of those who perished on 9/11, almost ten years ago to the day. May God bless the families who will relive that day.

In the four years since I started blogging and only really two years blogging on a regular basis, I haven’t really even thought of putting my own words about my memories of 9/11 to paper…Or to screen, in this case.

However, earlier today on the way home, I listened as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was interviewed regarding his memories about what happened back in 2001. When asked about what memory was most etched in his mind from that day, he recounted the painful memories he has of being close enough to the two devastated towers to witness trapped World Trade Center workers leaping from the wreckage and flames to certain death near or over 100 stories to the pavement below. The picture you see above is of one of those desperate souls who perished that day.

On 9/11/2001, I was at work in downtown Indianapolis on the 17th floor of what is known as the “Gold Building”. There are several buildings considerably taller than the Gold Building but it stands out due to its gold-colored windows, causing it to distinguish itself from other buildings in the Indianapolis skyline. Shortly after 8:45 AM, Deb, our office manager hurriedly moved through the office saying something about an airplane striking one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I guess at the time we were certainly a little stunned but it had probably not dawned on anyone just yet that a terrorist attack was under way. We had a small, portable black-and-white television set that Deb had set up in her office as the news played, informing us of what was going on.

Honestly, after hearing about that first plane crashing into the tower, I don’t remember much detail of what we learned over the course of the next hour or two. I do remember hearing about the second plane and realizing that it was now certainly no accident and then we heard a little later on about the plane striking the Pentagon. By this time, there was little work being done as we all tried to keep track of more pressing matters.

Then we heard about another plane possibly heading towards Washington on a similar mission and, shortly thereafter, crashing in Pennsylvania. By this time, I remember feeling pretty numb, the kind of feeling you get hearing about the unexpected passing of a loved one or receiving bad news from the doctor.

Also by this time, emergency responders all across the country were preparing for the possibility of similar attacks occurring in their own localities. We were told that we could go home if we wanted. I didn’t see much point in staying since there weren’t many, if any calls coming in to our support department, so I decided to head home.

After arriving home nearly 45 minutes later, listening to the news on the radio the entire way, I planted myself in front of the TV and watched in stunned silence the news coverage of the events of the day being played on nearly every channel, including many of those that never covered the news. That’s pretty much all I did for the rest of that day. I honestly don’t even remember if I went to work that next day, which would have been a Wednesday. I think I must have but it’s mostly a blur by now.

Listening to Giuliani’s account of what he experienced that day, I wept as I thought of the despair that those people in the towers must have felt that day. I cannot even begin to fathom how hopeless that must’ve felt to be trapped on the floors above the initial devastation. I’ve found it horrifying enough to have had dreams where I was falling and the helplessness I felt from it, to say nothing of actually falling to certain doom. What must the man in the above picture have been thinking in his last few seconds alive, knowing that he would not wake up to see his family the next day? What of those who made last-second phone calls to their spouse or child, knowing that the person on the other end of the call would soon be without their husband, wife, father, or mother? What went through the minds of those responders who rushed fearlessly into the soon-to-collapse towers in the hopes of saving maybe just one more person?

One of the sights I remember from that day as I looked east out the windows of the 17th floor of the Gold Building was that of a rainbow circling the sun. I’d never seen anything like it before and perhaps my mind and/or eyes were just playing tricks on me. I don’t even know if something like that is possible but I took it as a sign that, despite the evil that had occurred that morning, much good would or could come from it. Time really did seem to stand still that day.

May God bless and heal the families of those who lost their loved ones on 9/11/2001.

NEVER FORGET.

9/11: A Personal Reflection


In the four years since I started blogging and only really two years blogging on a regular basis, I haven’t really even thought of putting my own words about my memories of 9/11 to paper…Or to screen, in this case.

However, earlier today on the way home, I listened as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was interviewed regarding his memories about what happened back in 2001. When asked about what memory was most etched in his mind from that day, he recounted the painful memories he has of being close enough to the two devastated towers to witness trapped World Trade Center workers leaping from the wreckage and flames to certain death near or over 100 stories to the pavement below. The picture you see above is of one of those desperate souls who perished that day.

On 9/11/2001, I was at work in downtown Indianapolis on the 17th floor of what is known as the “Gold Building”. There are several buildings considerably taller than the Gold Building but it stands out due to its gold-colored windows, causing it to distinguish itself from other buildings in the Indianapolis skyline. Shortly after 8:45 AM, Deb, our office manager hurriedly moved through the office saying something about an airplane striking one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I guess at the time we were certainly a little stunned but it had probably not dawned on anyone just yet that a terrorist attack was under way. We had a small, portable black-and-white television set that Deb had set up in her office as the news played, informing us of what was going on.

Honestly, after hearing about that first plane crashing into the tower, I don’t remember much detail of what we learned over the course of the next hour or two. I do remember hearing about the second plane and realizing that it was now certainly no accident and then we heard a little later on about the plane striking the Pentagon. By this time, there was little work being done as we all tried to keep track of more pressing matters.

Then we heard about another plane possibly heading towards Washington on a similar mission and, shortly thereafter, crashing in Pennsylvania. By this time, I remember feeling pretty numb, the kind of feeling you get hearing about the unexpected passing of a loved one or receiving bad news from the doctor.

Also by this time, emergency responders all across the country were preparing for the possibility of similar attacks occurring in their own localities. We were told that we could go home if we wanted. I didn’t see much point in staying since there weren’t many, if any calls coming in to our support department, so I decided to head home.

After arriving home nearly 45 minutes later, listening to the news on the radio the entire way, I planted myself in front of the TV and watched in stunned silence the news coverage of the events of the day being played on nearly every channel, including many of those that never covered the news. That’s pretty much all I did for the rest of that day. I honestly don’t even remember if I went to work that next day, which would have been a Wednesday. I think I must have but it’s mostly a blur by now.

Listening to Giuliani’s account of what he experienced that day, I wept as I thought of the despair that those people in the towers must have felt that day. I cannot even begin to fathom how hopeless that must’ve felt to be trapped on the floors above the initial devastation. I’ve found it horrifying enough to have had dreams where I was falling and the helplessness I felt from it, to say nothing of actually falling to certain doom. What must the man in the above picture have been thinking in his last few seconds alive, knowing that he would not wake up to see his family the next day? What of those who made last-second phone calls to their spouse or child, knowing that the person on the other end of the call would soon be without their husband, wife, father, or mother? What went through the minds of those responders who rushed fearlessly into the soon-to-collapse towers in the hopes of saving maybe just one more person?

One of the sights I remember from that day as I looked east out the windows of the 17th floor of the Gold Building was that of a rainbow circling the sun. I’d never seen anything like it before and perhaps my mind and/or eyes were just playing tricks on me. I don’t even know if something like that is possible but I took it as a sign that, despite the evil that had occurred that morning, much good would or could come from it. Time really did seem to stand still that day.

May God bless and heal the families of those who lost their loved ones on 9/11/2001.

NEVER FORGET.

Remembering 9/11


Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for …a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew.

–President George W. Bush, December 11, 2001

Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.

–President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001

War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.

–George W. Bush, Speech at National Cathedral, September 14, 2001

The planes were hijacked, the buildings fell, and thousands of lives were lost nearly a thousand miles from here. But the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were an attack on the heart of America. And standing here in the heartland of America, we say in one voice:

We will not give in to terrorists;

We will not rest until they are found and defeated;

We will win this struggle not for glory, nor wealth, nor power, but for justice, for freedom, and for peace;

So help us God.

–Tom Harkin

America has its faults as a society, as we have ours.

But I think of the Union of America born out of the defeat of slavery.

I think of its Constitution, with its inalienable rights granted to every citizen still a model for the world.

I think of a black man, born in poverty, who became chief of their armed forces and is now secretary of state Colin Powell and I wonder frankly whether such a thing could have happened here.

I think of the Statue of Liberty and how many refugees, migrants and the impoverished passed its light and felt that if not for them, for their children, a new world could indeed be theirs.

I think of a country where people who do well, don’t have questions asked about their accent, their class, their beginnings but have admiration for what they have done and the success they’ve achieved.

I think of those New Yorkers I met, still in shock, but resolute; the fire fighters and police, mourning their comrades but still head held high.

–British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Our enemies have made the mistake that America’s enemies always make. They saw liberty and thought they saw weakness. And now, they see defeat.

–George W. Bush, President of the United States

America, A Christian Nation?


“These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” – Justice Brewer, U.S. Supreme Court, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892)

Many people will tell you that the United States is not a Christian nation. Well, perhaps they are right that, as of now, we are not a Christian nation. However, throughout most of our history, we have been a Christian nation. Now, I can hear the secularists running around cupping their hands over their ears, howling in disbelief and shouting their mantra regarding separation of church and state (which is mysteriously absent from our founding documents).

For the sake of this article, I’m just assuming we are still a Christian nation. You know what they say about assuming, right?  Oh well…Anyway, when I say that, I don’t mean that we are exclusively Christian. That’s obviously not the the case. The United States is more diverse religiously speaking than almost any other country on the face of the earth. What I do mean is that we are predominantly Christian and that our laws and moral code is/was based on Judeo-Christian principles. There are also multitudes of statements from our founding fathers and other political leaders throughout the last 200+ years solidifying this, which I’ve written about previously. That article can be read here.

Being a Christian nation doesn’t mean other religions are excluded or that their adherents should be shunned or even persecuted. This country has a long history of religious tolerance, for the most part. Yes, some examples of intolerance can be found but no country’s history is devoid of shameful periods of time or scattered incidents.

I’m against anyone who calls themselves a Christian and either persecutes, belittles, or pushes their beliefs on someone of another religion. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your faith or even debating someone on their beliefs as long as they are a willing participant. To continue doing otherwise when someone has made it abundantly clear that they don’t want to hear it is wrong and an abuse of our freedom of religion.

We Hold These Truths…


It’s late on July 4th, Independence Day, but I didn’t want to let the day completely pass without expressing my thankfulness for our founding fathers for having the foresight and courage to craft, sign, and implement the Declaration of Independence. Thanks also to those who so courageously sacrificed, suffered, and died in defense of that original document and their newly founded country.

If you’ve never read this founding document, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to do so. I’ve included it here for convenience sake.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

The Singing Revolution


28_singing_revolution

My wife and I have been fascinated with the country of Estonia and its culture ever since we began the process to adopt our daughter from there.

What we discovered as we researched the country, its culture, and its language was a people rich in heritage, strong in personality, and with a burning desire for freedom.

The Singing Revolution” is the title of a documentary and book detailing the story of how Estonia regained its independence from the USSR.  Prior to World War II, Estonia had gained its independence from Russia during World War I.  They lost their freedom again when Josef Stalin’s troops invaded and took over the country in 1944.

During this period of time, many Estonians lost their lives, up to perhaps 25% of the population, by the murderous Soviet army and many were sentenced to imprisonment in Siberia.  As was the custom, many Russian citizens were sent into the newly enslaved territory to influence the culture there.  The Estonian language was forbidden to be spoken and many of their customs were outlawed.  Because of the overwhelming odds faced by the Estonian people, many fled and became refugees, a good number of them settling in the United States and Canada.

In the late 1980s, Estonians began demonstrating against the Soviet regime.  Despite the repression they had experienced over the previous 40 plus years, the Estonians had retained their national spirit and had never truly capitulated to Soviet rule.

In 1987, Estonians began a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing, similar to their national Estonian Song Festival that occurs every five years.  Many of the songs are of Estonian origin and contain patriotic themes.  Anyway, the demonstrations eventually reached as many as 300,000 people in their capital city of Tallin.  The participants sang national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden by the Soviet government.

This “singing revolution” lasted over four years, with many protests and defiant acts.  In 1991, as the Soviet army attempted to quell these demonstrations and Estonia’s progress towards independence, the Estonian Supreme Soviet and the Congress of Estonia together proclaimed the restoration of the state of Estonia.  Estonians acted as human shields, protecting radio and television stations from the Soviet tanks.  Because of this, Estonia’s independence was regained without bloodshed.  Independence was later declared on August 20, 1991.  The next morning, Soviet troops attempted to storm the Tallin TV tower but were unsuccessful.

All this makes me wonder something…Would we here in the United States be able to maintain our thirst for freedom if the same thing happened to us?  Would we retain our national identity and culture under the same circumstances?  I’d like to hope so.

I also fear for the Estonian people during this time when Russia’s leaders seem to be becoming more bold once again in their actions towards some of the former Soviet states.  It’s been reported that some of those in power, although behind the scenes to some degree, long to restore the supposed glory of the USSR.  I pray that is not the case.