By Doris Schroeder
“ Turn your TV on!” Charles and Betty’s son Kenny instructed his parents by phone as we were enjoying a late leisurely breakfast at a cabin in Colorado. It was September l l, 2001. Putting on a local news channel we gasped as we saw people jumping out of high windows of the Trade Center in New York City as flames flashed all around them. We felt like we were caught up in a weird nightmare of some sort as the announcer anxiously described the scenes.
“What is happening to our country?” I wondered out loud, “surely this is some story they are putting on, this certainly is not real!”
But it was real, we soon discovered. Our eyes were glued to the happenings as we saw the smoke filling the sky around one of the Trade Center skyscrapers. Then the announcer excitedly reported “What is that, another plane circling the second tower, it almost looks…no, he has crashed into it and now it is also on fire!!!”
When the camera panned down to the sidewalk below, people were running almost every which way, trying to escape the ashes that were falling from the sky.
Our eyes were glued to the scene before us thinking this was just a story that they were enacting on the television. But no, the announcer himself kept exclaiming about the citizens he saw running to get away from the quagmire that we were focusing on. “This was happening in our country, our America, the land of the free!” Surely we were all having a bad dream and we would wake up! This after all, was the United States of America, our beloved country, the land who trusted in God.
Our eyes, however, finally made us realize this was truly authentic. This was not a dream or a bad nightmare; it was the real thing. Something was happening to our beloved country and we didn’t understand the why or wherefore of it. We prayed “God help us understand!”
It seemed like hours our eyes were glued to the TV screen. After awhile, the people on the sidewalks of New York were running their hardest away from the burning building as we could see part of it come raging down along the pathway. A look of terror on their faces. Why was this happening?
In the early afternoon of that day we decided to drive to Woodland Park, a few miles away, to pick up a few groceries. It was very eerie as cars, which usually sped down Highway 24, were driving slower…much slower and people looking out the window had a shocked expression on their faces.
We walked into the large Safeway Store in Woodland Park where the same quietness was evident, as people looked at each other in quiet consternation. When we went to the check out area, the radio was blaring with the latest news and we stopped to listen. We heard the word ‘terrorist’ and the possibility that might be the explanation for what was happening. “But why?” we wondered. “and why are terrorists after America? We are a free nation that believed in God and equality among men. Our government was based on Christian precepts as well as the freedom to choose what we wanted to follow!
As we drove back to the rented cabin, we debated what to do. “Should we pack up and go back home to Kansas?” But no, what could we do at home that would make a difference any more than what we could do in Colorado?
We called our son John in Florida to make sure he had heard from our grandson whom we had visited about three months earlier in Germany. Yes, he was all right now but what about the days ahead?
In the days that followed we were like sleepwalkers. The four of us had enjoyed living in the United States…a place we felt safe. It was here we had grown up, knowing that there was a God…just as most people believed. Oh, not everyone had personally accepted Christ into his or her lives but to almost everyone, there was a belief in the Supreme Being. Most of them had in the back of their mind that someday they would accept Him into their life and most had heard the Gospel. The country felt fairly safe and secure. Through this 9-11, we realized a new danger to our being and we learned a new word terrorist. We wondered what we would find out in the days ahead!
From the event that startled us in 2001, we have learned a lot of things we wish we didn’t know but we also learned how we can learn to depend on our heavenly Father even more. If we have accepted Jesus into our life, we can depend on Him completely, our faith grows stronger and we can really mean it when we sing God Bless America!
Don’t put it off any longer if you haven’t, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring!
Doris welcomes your comments and can be reached at [email protected]