When September 11 happened, my children were too young to be able to grasp what had happened, let alone have an intelligent discussion about the lessons that could be learned from the tragedy. Three days later, on Friday, 9/14, I sat down and wrote them a letter so they would know where they were, would know what I was thinking, and would be able to learn lessons learned in the moment.
I hope you don’t mind my sharing what I wrote for them. We read it together each year in attempt to never forget the lessons contained in that day.
My dearest Hannah and Nathan:
It has been a really difficult week this week (today’s 9/15/01). I’m so glad that both of you are too young to really grasp the horror of what has transpired. Tuesday, 9/11/01, some terrorists hijacked four planes and crashed them into different places, trying to kill as many people as possible — and hurt our country really badly. Two planes flew into the World Trade Center’s two towers in New York City. The world actually witnessed the second one fly into the building.
Less than an hour later, both buildings crashed to the ground. I actually saw that as it happened on television. Horror doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling. This looked like a movie, but it was live. I think it may be some time before we can grasp the horror we watched.
As many as 50,000 people work in those buildings on any given day. The damage in human life could have been so much worse than it actually was. It’s still really bad; currently, over 5,000 people are missing and presumed dead.
The third plane was flown into the Pentagon and killed almost 200 people. The fourth was headed for the White House. The passengers decided to fight back, knowing that they were going to die anyway, and the plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania.
At first, I was panic stricken because I couldn’t imagine what was going to happen to all of us. Then, as it started to set it, I became very grief stricken because of all the lives that were lost. And, to think of the potential lives that are going to be lost as the United States begins to hunt down the people responsible for this.
Hannah, you were at school (kindergarten) when all this happened. I was grateful for that, because I’m afraid that my initial reaction probably would have scared you. I was scared. I’m glad you didn’t have to experience that. I did, however, call the school to make sure you were all right. They said that none of you knew what had happened. I thanked God that you were in a safe place.
Nathan, my little man, you were right here with me. I didn’t think you would understand my reactions, or that would actually notice. Looking back, though, I think you knew something was wrong; you just didn’t know what. You wanted to stay very close to me for a couple of days.
Your precious Daddy was sleeping, as he was working third shift. Bless his heart, when he woke up at 4 p.m., he had to take on all the terrible news in just a few short minutes. At least I had had all day to absorb what was happening and sort things out. Daddy didn’t want to go to work that night, because he wanted to stay here and make sure we were all okay. But, knowing that bills still had to be paid, he went on. He did check in on us during his breaks. Your Daddy loves you and me very much. I don’t think he even realizes how much.
We witnessed pure evil this week, and it was (and still is) unbelievably scary. My generation and those behind me have been lucky in that we have never really had to experience war. Now, my dears, we are in the middle of one.
I could be really scared, and later on I just might be. But, I am really trying to let God take this worry from me. What is happening in our world is so much bigger than my spirit can handle. But, we are children of the creator of the universe, and rest assured — HE CAN HANDLE THIS.
Some people are speculating, and worrying, about all the terrible things that could happen. I can’t even write them here because I just cannot let them have a place in my thoughts. I am trying to let God fill my mind and heart.
Sweethearts, I want you to know that in the middle of what seems like hell, God is in control. He promises us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. Who knows, you may never grow old enough to read the thoughts your mommy wants to share with you. I am comforted, however, that if that be the case, that we will all be together in heaven.
But if you are old enough to read this, my prayer is that you have a passionate relationship with God. There is no way for any of us to get through even the littlest of trials without Him. In the ones like this week, that are too big for us to comprehend, it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to.
Our nation is coming together with a renewed sense of patriotism. And, it seems like many people are looking to God for comfort. Hopefully, people will realize that God MUST be in our lives, schools, government, everything. I am praying that he protects our land; but I know that this may be judgment for a land that has turned its hearts away from Him. Guys, don’t take sin lightly. It hurts God. Because of the sin we choose to let into our lives and hearts, Jesus had to die.
I hope, as you grow older that I am able to teach you about holiness and purity. I want you to appreciate those values as a beautiful gift from God. Christ died to give you those things. Don’t treat them lightly. Take care of your hearts and spirits. Work to keep them focused on the Father.
As we go through this time, I want you to know that your Mommy is praying that we as a family can be beacons of hope pointing the way to God. I want to stand out for Christ. Whatever happens, God is using us to His glory. We must trust that.
Yes, sometimes I am scared about the path that this will take us on; but we have to hold on to God’s promises.
And one more thing that I am just beginning to grasp from this week — don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Don’t miss a moment to grow closer to God. Don’t let your eyes focus or fixate on the things of this world. They are temporary. They will burn up. We will have to leave them behind.
I love you, always,