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When the Twin Towers Fell

By Hannah Goodwyn Producer - 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 productivity.

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 ready anyway.

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 all day.

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 ever again.”

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.

Comments? E-mail me.

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