I don’t usually remember what I wore 12 years ago, let alone one week ago.
But I do remember what I was wearing 12 years ago today.
I had the amazing opportunity to do part of my student teaching overseas in Papua New Guinea. I worked at an international school and stayed at a base camp with the organization Wycliffe Bible Translators. Hence my more conservative attire.
Most Americans old enough to remember can easily recall what they were doing and where they were the day of September 11th, 2001. My circumstances were that much more unique in the sense that I was out of the country. But let me tell you, it made that day somehow even more memorable.
Similar to many, my roommate and I awoke to a phone call, her dad, calling to tell us of a major catastrophe in the states. He couldn’t talk long. Each phone call cost a fortune! And unfortunately, we did not have access to any form of media. That little TV pictured above was for VHS videos only.
But, when we arrived at our school that day, the principal had hooked up cable and nearly every teacher, certainly every American teacher, was huddled around a tiny TV watching the horror that was 9/11 play out in front of us.
The love and respect non-Americans around us poured upon us was unreal!! They all noted their condolences as every one of us walked around with heavy hearts. It was odd trying to process the events while so far away from home, and yet, so bizarrely encouraging to see people of so many different places and culture come together in sorrow.
Altogether I was out of the country for over 3 months total.
Our flight out of Sydney, Australia on September 21st was the FIRST international flight from Sydney to the states after the attack. Man was I thankful to be home. Many people question me about how terrified I must’ve been to fly. I honestly had no hesitation whatsoever. Really, it was probably one of the safest days to fly…ever, when you think about it. Talk about heightened alert!
Below was my journal entry from that day….
(remember, we were half way around the world)
“We were awoken early this morning by a phone call from Jen’s dad informing us that 2 planes were hi-jacked by terrorists and flown into the world trade center twin towers within an hour of each other. There were also 2 other planes – 1 crashing into the pentagon and the other landing in a field in Pennsylvania.
As we arrived to school, more and more people began sharing what they’d heard and all of a sudden, a spontaneous chapel was called. Dave Pederson shared, reminding us that our God is not a God of chaos – that He will prevail. Sort of in the dark to all that had happened, I finished teaching that morning and retreated to the AV room to watch an Australian channel covering the numerous plane crashes.
My jaw dropped at the images of the planes crashing into the twin towers, the heat from the explosions weakening its structure, causing the upper floors to collapse, the weight of these floors bringing down the remainder of the building. People jumping out of the windows, falling to their death, chaos as people scattered throughout the streets, escaping the crashing rubble. Then – bringing my amazement to a heightened degree, scenes of people celebrating in Afghanistan filled the screen. HOW – was all I could think as the news calculated the possible death toll to be near 50,000, mostly consisting of innocent bystanders!
The mood was somber for the rest of the day – I felt pretty detached from home.”
So…yes, I WILL NEVER FORGET.