9/10/2004

REMEMBERING 9/11

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 FACTS

Total Deaths, Pentagon Attack (Ground): 124
Total Deaths, American Airlines Flight 77, (Pentagon): 64
Total Injured, Pentagon Attack: 76

Total Deaths, WTC Attacks: 2,792
Total Deaths, American Airlines Flight 11, WTC North Tower: 92
Total Deaths, United Airlines Flight 175, WTC South Tower: 65
Total Injured, WTC Attacks: 2,261
Firefighter Deaths, WTC Attacks: 343
Police Deaths, WTC Attacks: 75

Total Deaths, Shanksville, PA, United Airlines Flight 93: 40


Total Deaths Resulting From All 9/11 Attacks: 3,030
Total Injured Resulting From All 9/11 Attacks: 2,337


It is the eve of the anniversary, of September 11, 2001. How long ago that day seems now. Three years?

When I first heard of the attack, I was working for Burger Boat Company, a builder of multi-million dollar luxury yachts. We built some of the finest yachts ever made, and the interior carpentry was second to none. On September 11, 2001, I realized just how pointless my job really was. It would be another eight months before I was no longer with that company, but the truth is, I lost my heart for that type of construction the day the airplanes landed on people, on purpose.

I heard of the attack on the radio, as I was passing by it on my way from the Owner’s stateroom, to the aft of the yacht. I stopped in my tracks, wanting to make sure of what I was hearing. Several people gathered around, and we listened to reports of the first plane having just crashed. We all wondered what the chances were that a jet would crash INTO one of the Trade Center Towers. As we were asking ourselves that question out loud, we heard a reporter talk about a second plane that had just plowed into the Trade Center. It was at this point that we knew we were under attack. No amount of coincidence was enough to explain two planes into the Center.

Then when we heard about the Pentagon, and several men worried about their loved ones working at one of the two Nuclear Power Plants just North of Two Rivers, thinking they would be likely terrorist targets. I didn’t worry too much, because I knew the terrorists were too stupid to concentrate on the heart of America. They are too weak to hit the center, that is why they always attack the edges. So I felt that day, as I do to this day.

I remember talking with a good friend of mine, a young man named Darren from Ireland, whom I had introduced to Christ just several weeks before. “Tom, I feel God so strongly right now!” That’s what Darren said to me. I nodded my head, and continued to listen to the report. Soon, we were shuffled back to work, being told there wasn’t anything we could do about what was happening in the east.

It was difficult at best to concentrate again on my purpose there. I found myself asking these questions:

1. Where is God in all this?
2. What is the purpose of all this?
3. What is the scene like?
4. Are there children at the Trade Center? For the life of me, I couldn’t answer that question.
5. How many died without knowing Jesus?
6. Is my little daughter hearing about this? Seeing it at school? Is she okay? How is her heart?

Tears flowed easily, but briefly when I thought of my daughter, and made the connection that mattered. My God!! The families!! The wives!! The Husbands!! The children?!

I do not remember my day at work from that point on, except that I desperately wanted to get home so I could hug my little girl, and thank God for her being alive. I prayed God be with those families of the lost.

The following evening, I met with my pastor. We were supposed to discuss a study I was doing with him. Instead, we discussed the previous day. What was God telling us? What was next? There had to be a purpose from God’s point of view, because the idea that God can’t stop evil is just garbage to both of us. What was the plan, and what should we do?

I had been at the church the night of September 11, 2001. I was called there by a friend of mine who told me Hope Church was planning a prayer vigil that evening. I sat in stunned silence as I listened to this prayer, over and over by each participant, who only used different words.

“Father God, Come alongside of those families now, and lift them up, give them some peace, and some hope. Father, come alongside America, come alongside us, and restore our safety, restore our security, restore our hope. We are afraid, lonely, and looking over our shoulders. We do not understand all of this, and we have been terrorized. We want desperately to feel “normal” again, what shall we do to feel so? God, Bless us, bless our land, bless our economy, our protectors, our President and government, our children, our WAY OF LIFE. Amen”

“Our way of life” was a statement I would hear more and more that evening, and the next day. How dare they threaten our way of life. I wondered about that statement. What did it really say about America? When I met with my pastor, and we started discussing the events of the previous day, I told him what I had been hearing. He told me he had heard similar things. We talked about what it all meant. How would we help others to understand? I told him what I had told the group I met with just the evening before, the group that had repeatedly prayed the same prayer using different words.

I told them we had not lost our safety, despite the carnage in the East. We had not lost our security, despite the ease with which we had been struck. We had not lost our hope, despite the despair we all felt over the reports of estimated dead. We had not lost any of these things, because we had not lost God. I talked about the nation crying out, “God Bless America”. I told them this is not a prayer to be uttered at this time. The way it was prayed, uttered on every street corner, in every pub, church, hospital, store, and television show, it was uttered as a demand, not as a plea.

I told them to pray for what was real, pray for the families, and for God’s will to be done, in this, and in all things. I told them that despite our lack of understanding, despite the pain and anguish we all felt, we could still trust that God loves us, even if it looks like He has abandoned our nation. Then I told them God has most certainly not abandoned our nation. How could He abandon a land where even one of His children lives?

I told my pastor I did not think what I said did any good. People were afraid to go home, afraid to go to sleep, afraid to go to work. It was the most desperate time I have ever witnessed. We talked a little more, my pastor and I. We came to the conclusion that it could take a long, long time to discover the purposes of God in this. We were fairly sure that there were many. But we agreed that we must do at least the one thing we could do; encourage everyone we meet with the love of Christ, be they follower or not.

We agreed that something more needed to be said. We agreed that church would be packed that Sunday. We also agreed that it wouldn’t be long before normal levels of attendance returned. We agreed that above all else, America as a whole had been exposed as an instant gratification driven conglomerate of hopers. We wanted to feel better, and we wanted it now. If going to church could do that, then we would go to church. We would have done anything to feel better during those days, because the reality couldn’t be escaped, and that is one thing Americans have become quite good at; escaping reality.

Things are for the most part, back to normal in this nation. It didn’t take long for that to happen. I love them so. I love my nation, but I am not going to lie for this country. Many great things have been accomplished by we who call ourselves Americans. Many horrible things have also been done. But the worst thing, I believe anyway, is that we have become a nation of “feel gooders”, rather than a nation of “do gooders”.

That has been exposed wide open by the terrorists. But I have a message for the terrorists. This nation is strong, even though it be a nation driven by “feeling” good. You have not destroyed anything but your own reputation, which was never good to begin with. Be you white, red, black, or yellow, if you are a terrorist, you are a coward.

You have no honor, you have no glory. All you have is a gun. I have two of them, and you will never see me aim them at a child, or a woman. You will never see me aim them at any innocent bystander, just to get my point across. By now, the world knows that real men use words, not guns or bombs or planes. Yours is a despicable gang of thieves, murderers, and rapists. You portray yourselves as men with a cause, and all the while you are nothing more than toddlers throwing a temper tantrum. You want your way, and you are willing to kill to get it. That’s not honor, that’s cowardice.

There is no honor in killing women and children in the name of a “cause”. There is no honor in specifically targeting innocents and civilians, in planning to do harm to them for the name of whatever religion or right you claim.

You believe that bloodshed will bring people to their knees, begging you to stop. You believe that terror reigns in America now. You believe wrong. I am an American, and I am not now, nor have I ever been afraid of you. Nothing you can do will take my security, my safety, or my salvation away. It is not yours to take. It belongs to God, and you are not man enough to take it away from Him. Nothing you do will ever cause me to fear you. I stand, America stands, and there are many, many who stand with me. We are not defeated, we are strong, and we will stand beyond your pitiful attempts to inflict terror into the one place you cannot reach with a gun, bomb, or plane, our hearts. Amen to God.

2 comments:

Elaine said...

Tom,
This is the best post, God Bless you. I remember too,One of the kids was home sick from shcool, which ment I was home too. I rember turning on the TV and there it was, I fell into a chair, I couldent belive my eyes, it was right their live. The next thing the second plane came and crashed, all the events to follow.
I turned off the TV I could see no sence watching the horrible tragity over and over. I was numb, I cried and prayed for those who lost their lives, and those to come. I too went to church that night, I cried and prayed. Tom, I was never afraid, you see I knew (and still do) if I were to die, I would be with Jesus, and no matter what, my boys, He would take care of them, I know becouse I belive, I know becouse He dose every day. We are not the chosen people, we are only His childern, and soon I will be with my Lord, and nothing, nothing, will ever change that.
God be with you always,

Tom Reindl said...

Elaine, thank you!!

I know you are strong in faith. I figured you would identify with what I said about the general feeling of America during that time, even amongst many believers. I am sure you were a comfort to many during those days, not just your sons. HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU HAVE! I know you will.