As I write this, dawn is breaking in Manhattan, New York. It is the 11th of September, 2016. The new day marks the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Centre (WTC) also known as the “Twin Towers” terrorist attacks.
On that day 15 years ago two hijacked jetliners piloted by Islamic terrorists deliberately crashed into the Twin Towers. The US government had prior intelligence and knowledge about these terrorists but did not act on it. In a sense, they played a large role, in aiding these diabolical terrorists.
Nearly 3,000 souls perished in the Twin Towers (including 343 FDNY firefighters, 60 NYPD and PAPD police officers and 8 EMS personnel) a further 6,000 + people were injured and even more deaths occur even to this day as a result of cancer and other illnesses caused by the debris fallout.
At approximately 8:47 am that morning, Chief Joseph Pfeifer of New York Fire Department’s Battalion 1 was out on a routine call near the WTC’s when he looked up and saw a Boeing 767 (American Airline Flight 11) headed for the North Tower. He watched helplessly as it ploughed mercilessly through the tower. He immediately radioed the Manhattan NYPD dispatch with the words “Battalion 1 to Manhattan. We just had a – a plane crashed into an upper floor of the World Trade Center. Transmit a second alarm and start relocating companies into the area.”
Moments later Engine 10 desperately called over the radio “Send every available ambulance, everything you’ve got to the World Trade Centre now.”
At about 8:48 am, Rescue Squad 18 radioed “...If the first battalion transmitted that it looked like it was intentional, inform all units going into the box it could be a terror attack.”
These guys knew it was going to be really bad… worse than any of them had ever seen before. It proved to be more than “really bad”… the destruction, the shock, the horror, the death, the suffering was worse than words could ever describe. In hindsight this terrible tragedy proved to be the worst terrorist attack in the whole of US history.
I have heard many horrific and chilling emergency radio transmissions over the last few years. I have heard desperate maydays from trapped firefighters, fatal aircraft crashes and homicide calls but nothing chills me more than hearing the recordings of the FDNY radio transmissions on the morning of that fateful day. It is a memory that will help me to never forget the true face of Islam… the true depravity of mankind.
Approximately eighteen minutes after the north tower was struck, United Flight 175 ploughed into the South Tower. Other surrounding buildings in the WTC complex also collapsed or were severely damaged as a result of the debris and fires.
Many tragically took their own lives by jumping from the high rise office windows to escape the unbearable heat, flames, debris and suffocating smoke. I am sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were terrified beyond words can describe.
Another hijacked jetliner (American Airlines Flight 77) headed for the Pentagon and struck the western side of the building causing more death, injuries and damage. Still yet another jet was bound for the White House but thanks to the selfless actions of a Christian family man Todd Beamer and other heroes on board United Flight 93, they were able to thwart the hijackers’ plans and instead crash the plane into a Pennsylvanian field resulting in the loss of all 44 passengers on board (including the Islamist hijackers).
These attacks changed New York, America and the rest of the Western world forever. It changed our approach to emergency management and response. It changed the way we see terrorism.
We will never forget the lives lost on that day… the families who lost loved ones…. the raw courage, gallantry, heroism and selfless sacrifice displayed by the many first responders who all came to Ground Zero to search for survivors. We will always remember.
We pray for those families who lost loved ones, the first responders struggling with PTSD and health problems fifteen years on as a result of this tragedy.
I have studied the events of September 11, 2001 in great detail and after reflecting on the events of that fateful day, I have learned a few solemn take-away points which I will share in this article and are worthy of contemplation.
Life is so short. Like a vapour it comes and goes. I am reminded of this all the time. Do you think any of those people who boarded those flights or entered the WTC’s that morning expected to die in such a horrific way? No! Many of them were still young. They had young families, wives, sweethearts, careers, businesses… basically their whole life before them all cut short. They went quietly to bed the night before with no thought that the next morning their lives would be changed forever. Hundreds packed flight bags that they would not live to open. Thousands slept with loved ones for the last time. One never knows what a new day has in store.
So let’s thank God for each day of life that He gives us. Every moment is a precious gift from God. It’s a real blessing which we take so for granted. Let us live each day to the fullest, do things for His glory, serve and bless others and never miss a chance to let those dearest to us know of our love for them. We never know when we or they will be snatched away.
Sadly many people died with no hope and many families suffered and still suffer without hope. True hope comes from, is rooted in and found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the source of comfort, consolation and peace in times of suffering. I pray that these suffering families will find the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Phillippians 4:7) and know the blessed comfort He gives. God really does provide hope in tragedy.
Below are some real stories of hope in Christ that rose from the ashes of Ground Zero.
FDNY Fireman Robert Thomas said “And it’s taken you past this world. You know, I think everybody always considers this world everything. But now 9/11 happened and you had so many deaths. What happens on the other side? Where [are] the answers that you thought you had gonna take you when you actually face Him? Because it was a reality, even with all the churches, that you will one day meet Him, not only you, your family, your friends and what are you gonna do with that? I think that’s where the conviction came in for those who actually turn[ed] their hearts to the Lord, realized there’s more to life than what we experience now. There is a God.”
Bob said: “Maybe 95 percent, if not more of the country, really have no idea what it’s like, they’ve gone through an event like 9/11, but Christ and what His Son has done in giving His life for us, there’s no comparison. And you’re able to be free, to be able to say emotionally what you’re feeling, with the intent of helping someone else identify the source of your strength which is Him. There’s no one that could’ve gone through the Cross and been isolated, like He was, rejected by His very own and even the Father, Himself and still serve Him to the degree that He looks out for others. You begin to recognize, there’s nothing of value, nothing at all that can compare to the value that’s found in Christ. And every answer that we have, that He’s given us is from experience. It’s real and it’s true and it’s available to you. And that message come[s] out so clear in everything you say and everything you do.”
Captain Carlos Vasquez of the FDNY said “I trust in God’s promises and you know, I know that there’s no other person that can give you that hope of eternal life. But God gives us free will to accept or to reject and to do things good and evil. And these are choices that we make. But the choice that we need to make is to turn to the Lord, because the Lord through Him, there’s salvation found in no other.”
Pastor Lawrence Saunders has this to say “My message of hope to people is that, they have a relationship with Jesus Christ, because the Bible says, He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” And I believe that He is the only way that man can really overcome the complexities of life, the situations of life and the tragedies of life. ‘Cause even though 9/11 has passed, still some people have not been healed yet. People still have open wounds. And there’s a Scripture that talks about, “Is there a balm in Gilead?” Yes, Jesus Christ is the healin’ ointment that, if He’s applied to the wounds of life, He can still heal. He can still mend that which is broken and there is hope in Jesus. So, that’s my message today, that there is hope in Jesus Christ.”
Hear more stories of hope from the Focus on the Family blog article “Hope From the Ashes of 9/11”: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/hope-from-the-ashes-of-9-11
Let’s never forget.