To say that 9-11 is a depressing day is a gross understatement. Because many of us who lived through it are still alive, the memories of that day have barely had time to fade into the recesses of our minds. Today, many of us stare at TV screens as the images of that day are replayed. It’s as though we are reliving it—and in a sense, I suppose we are.
I sometimes think about the people who have been born since that day—as well as those who were too young to have any real recollection of it. I wonder how they feel. To many, I suppose, it’s like most other chapters in the history book they were assigned to read. Unreal, distant, and possibly, without a great deal of meaning… Another day, another assignment, another bit of drudgery without any personal relevance…
Retell the Story
I hope that’s not the case; but still, I wonder. Has it become like so many other incidents in the saga of life? Episodes that we should learn, but that are so far removed from our everyday existence, they are constantly devolving into the mish-mosh of our collective brains… 9-11 is far too important for that—which is why, I’m sure, we sit and watch as the planes ram into the towers again and again. It’s why we listen to the cries of the people as they run, screaming through the cloud of debris wafting down upon the city like a condensed, toxic fog. It’s why we retell the story each and every year—and hopefully will continue to do so.
For me, some of the more horrific scenes of that day—ones that I frequently replay in my mind’s eye—are the scenes of those in the upper floors of the towers plummeting to their deaths. Oddly, it’s not the sight of them falling through the New York sky like so many raindrops that ultimately pierces my soul. It’s imagining what they were going through in the moments before they made the final decision that preoccupies my thoughts.
A Heroic Rescue
They knew they were going to die soon. There may have been moments when they imagined a heroic rescue—perhaps by a helicopter crew or a brave soul who knew some secret passageway in the back of the building, far away from the immediate crash site. Any such hopes were undoubtedly dashed quickly as the agonizing seconds slipped by.
They had an excruciating decision to make. Will I die in a fire, be crushed by a collapsing building, or take matters into my own hands? Will I jump to the street below and end it now, or will I fight the flames and fumes until I ultimately lose the battle? I can’t imagine myself in such a scenario.
Jesus once said, “PeaceI leave with you; my peaceI give you…do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) I hope many found comfort in those words that day. I hope we continue to find comfort in them today, as well.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]