One day in December when my dad was almost 10 years old he came home to find his mom and dad upset and sorrowful. They told him that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Dad could describe the feelings of that day in detail even 50 years later.
I remember sitting in 3rd grade on November 22, 1963 and my teacher, Mrs. Herbst, telling us tearfully that the President of the United States had been killed. I remember asking my mom about it when I got home. I remember having school cancelled and watching the funeral on the black and white television and feeling sad.
I remember answering calls as an 800 operator at my job at Ruppman Marketing on January 28, 1986 and speaking with a lady about her Panasonic phone. The television was on in the background and I heard her yell, “Oh, it blew up! They are all gone! Oh!” and then she hung up. I didn’t understand what had happened until hours later when others at lunch discussed the Challenger disaster. At home that evening, I watched the news and shared her horror and sorrow.
And I remember sitting at my desk on September 11, 2001 at AFFINA and Jake turning around and saying a plane just flew into one of the twin towers in New York City. We all wondered how the pilot of a small plane could err so badly. Then, more reports came in. It was a commercial plane (which I envisioned as empty except for the pilot.) Then another plane and another tower. Then, the realization that they had been hijacked and so many people were on the plane. We left our desks and went to the lunchroom to watch the news reports. We watched in horror as the towers fell. We cried together.
I remember a phone call from my brother after the plane hit the Pentagon. We discussed how this could be a precursor to the Lord’s return. Breathtaking. Realization of wasted time. Sorrow. Fear. I remember calling my girls to make sure they were OK. Just the need to hear their voices. To tell them I wanted them to come home.
And in the midst of it, hearing that my dear friend’s father had passed away from cancer in the hospital that morning. Personal grief in the midst of national grief.
The question was asked last week “How has your life changed since those attacks? What is different about your life now?” It made me stop and think. Has my life changed because of the attacks on 9/11? Is anything different about my life now?
The biggest change in this small-town Midwest girl was a deeper understanding of evil. How do I explain a life that was lived in a town where no one locked their doors, neighbors looked out for each other – and their kids – and the only knowledge of evil was from movie trailers on TV or from passages in the Bible? To watch the horror on that day, to know that it was real, to comprehend that men had intentionally killed men, women, and children, to grasp the evil that had ruled their actions – this was overwhelming. This opened my eyes that the spiritual warfare of Christians against our enemy, Satan, had stepped into my physical world. I’ve looked at things differently. I’ve learned to view evil as evil.
Since 2001 I’ve read a few books by Joel Rosenberg and he explains it well when he notes, “”They [terrorists] are evil, they have a voice, and we understand them — they seek our annihilation,” he says. “And yet there are too many in Washington and London with a modern, secularist mind-set, that don’t believe in the existence of evil, and they risk being blindsided by them. . . A willingness to ignore the reality of evil has historic roots, Mr. Rosenberg says.
“It’s a very American tradition to hope that a murderous ideology will not affect us,” he says. “We didn’t grasp this with Hitler or Stalin early on, and we ignored radical Islam for most of the 1990s, even as they were escalating attacks on us.”
September 11, 2001 opened my eyes to a better understanding of I Peter 5:8 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
He devoured so many that day. My prayer is that we become strong warriors, saving people from the enemy by proclaiming the victory of Jesus Christ and standing firm in His Truth.