When the Twin Towers Fell
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Late for class, I prayed I would get a seat. My only
worry was about missing something or having to sit at the front
of the room. Parking at my college was always horrible, but that
day it wasn’t bad and thank goodness.
Actually, the teacher hadn’t shown up either. I pulled
out my books and doodled on some scrap paper, until the room seemed
to close in on me.
Staggering to find a chair with tears blurring her eyes, Margo
looked at me. My heart sank. Her face was ghostly white. In broken
speech, she explained what happened.
“The towers have been hit,” she said. “I have
friends that work there.” She started to sob frantically.
Pictures of the possible flashed before my eyes. I had no friends
who work at the World Trade Center, but I knew New York well enough
to imagine what could happen.
I had stood in front of the extraordinary structures on one of
my trips to the city. Having to shield my eyes from the summer
sun, I remembered looking skyward at the enormity of the towers.
I was there again, near the fountain where my friends and I took
photos before riding the elevator to the observation deck on Tower
Two. Looking down from the roof of the 110-story building, with
its windows that seemingly suspended the steel structure in the
air, the busy lower Manhattan streets were ant-sized paths of
Not now. Not anymore. I saw planes and faces of people who I
causally passed by before while visiting their city. Where were
they? Were they hurt? I saw pain and death. I felt the deepest
anguish and fear in the pit of my stomach. Strong, heart–pounding
emotions conquered me.
A few minutes after 9:30 a.m., Dr. Filetti walked into the room,
acknowledged the seriousness of the situation in New York and
then started class. But I was still mulling over what was happening
to the city I love and to strangers that felt closer at that moment
to me than some of my dear friends.
The end of class came quickly as I wondered what was going on
outside of the two-story classroom building. I gathered my books
and walked to my next class almost dazed. It was only two doors
down, but each step was difficult.
Staring off, I blocked the noise around my desk until I heard
my professor’s voice. He had news. A conversation I did
not want to hear began. Students and Dr. McCafferty updated each
other on the latest. All I wanted to do was go home and get the
information first hand, but I had to rely on these brief reports.
First, a plane hit one of the towers in New York.
Then, a second jet smashed into the other.
Both were destroyed, gone.
I couldn’t believe it. I wept, hated what I imagined and
wrestled with my logic. I could not fathom that day’s reality.
At 12:15 p.m., class ended and I rushed to my car, turned on
the radio and heard for myself.
Reporters described the sights they witnessed that horrific morning.
As I heard their descriptions, home was all I thought about. My
family. God, my family will be safe, right?
People were fleeing as the towers crumbled and sent a cloud of
smoke and debris through the streets. Tons of metal that once
stood overlooking New York disappeared from the skyline, broken
and lying on the ground.
God, how could this happen? Why?
Somehow I safely drove to my next class, although I did not remember
the drive there. It was in an all-windows bank building a mile
from campus. My seat was next to one of the tall, third-story
windows. My imagination allowed me to fear a plane hitting the
small building so clearly, even though I had not watched video
or seen pictures of the attacks at that point.
Fear held my mind and heart. What if it was not over yet? What
if we are next? Then, reason spoke. Why would they want to destroy
a bank in Newport News, Va.? I argued. But who is to say they
would not attack us. There is no way to be sure we are safe.
But there was a way. I quieted my emotions and began to rely
on faith that God’s love and mercy to calm me down. Despite
the day’s events, I would be safe. If death came, I was
Still unable to get to a television to watch the news, I felt
isolated from what was going on in my country. Finally, I got
home that evening.
Mom and my sister greeted with hugs as I opened my parent’s
front door. We watched the news together. As I caught my first
glimpse of the attacks, they told me something I did not realize
Tyler, a close friend, was in New York. He was there working
with an urban mission organization.
“God, where is he? Is he alright? When will we hear news?
God, please let him be safe,” I pleaded.
Night came and sleep with it, but no rest. I was anxious until
we received a call the next day.
“Tyler is OK,” mom said after she hung up the phone.
He was on his way to Manhattan when he heard there was a plane
crash. As he left the subway station, he saw a black cloud cover
the sky. The subway system shutdown, so he trekked on foot back
to Queens with no real idea of what was going on downtown.
My friend was safe. But as I watched the news again and saw the
New Yorkers who desperately searched for loved ones, my heart
broke and sought strengthening peace in knowing that God was still
in control despite the chaos.
Just one day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, my
cry became “God, please do not let a tragedy like this happen
As I look back over these past four years, I am reminded of God’s
faithfulness to bring His people through hard times. And even
though circumstances have left many stranded, searching for loved
ones yet again, our hope can rest in God’s unfailing love.
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