Sarah Sweatt – Little Rock, AR
I was in U.S. History class when the second tower fell, watching dumbstruck as the event was covered live on CNN, still not understanding what I was seeing…I stayed in this fog, continuing to observe the coverage on the news, following the story of the hunt for the terrorists, but especially following the story of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist kidnapped in the Middle East. I identified with him, because I was editor of my school paper, because I wanted to become a journalist, because I could see myself in his shoes… And one evening, as I walked through the living room, CNN on in the background, and I heard the news of Daniel Pearl’s murder at the hands of his terrorist kidnappers. And for the first time since the towers fell, I cried…
Gretchen Williams – San Antonio, TX
I was at work and my soon-to-be fiancé was in the cubicle next to me. We heard about the first tower. The whole office crammed into the conference room, turned on the TV, adjusted the bunny ears, and watched as the second tower went down… America’s hearts were powerfully connected that day… I got engaged a month later and alongside the journal entries of sweet anticipation of our wedding day I wrote out prayers for our country, our President, and for the outcome of our Nation. In my journal I wrote about a certain nervousness and overwhelming sadness at the loss we received a month prior. I remember feeling humbled. Humbled by the reality that anything is possible. I also realized that this event grieved God’s heart and that He is our only certainty in this world.
Josh Champion – St. Agnes, South Austrlia
I’m from Australia and as a result, 9/11 actually happened on 9/10 at about 10.30 pm for us. But it still felt unimaginably real for me… I was in senior year in high school and all day we were darting in and out of classrooms to get updates and watch the presidential address. I remember our History teacher went and got a TV and set it up in our room saying, "this will be history, you guys need to see this….” I was walking back to a class with a friend and she looked up at me and said, "Josh, I’m scared…" To this day no words have been spoken to me that carried as much purity and honesty as those. After she had spoken, I didn’t reply, I simply put my arm around her and we just sat there for a while taking comfort in each others arms…
Kirk Schneemann – Ann Arbor, MI
The phone in my Ann Arbor, Michigan home rang. It was my mother-in-law relaying a call from my brother-in-law. He asked if we were watching television, which we were not. As I turned it on, we saw the horrifying sight …It was surreal, and was about to get much worse…The shocking moments that followed—another plane, tumbling skyscrapers, the D.C. plane, and the Pennsylvania crash… It was the dawn of a new, bitter world. We were concerned for the safety of my brother-in-law, yet my other one was in Manhattan at a job interview. Fortunately, both were physically fine, though the mental/emotional scars are still deep for both of them.
Ben Swain – West Lafayette, IN
When I first heard the news of the attack on the World Trade Center I was at work… At noon I drove to my church for an open prayer time we were having. As I was turning a corner I slowed down, turned on my turn signal, and made my turn. Evidently the guy behind me didn’t appreciate that because he hit his horn and flipped me off…The planes hitting the towers didn’t shock me, experts have been saying that was coming for a long time. I guess what shocked me was that in the aftermath of the tragedy, when our country seemed to be taking time to care about others, that it was still all about us. I think that was the point where the ache for Heaven really began. We live in a broken world and I know I don’t belong here.
Tim Wildsmith – Omaha, NE
The band I was playing in at the time had an all-night recording session that started at 12 a.m. on September 11th. We got home at about 8:30 in the morning and I went to bed. Not long after that a friend woke me up by turning on my TV. I was pretty ticked, but then I looked at the screen. I almost fell out of my bed. We sat there in front of the screen watching the day unfold. I left my dorm to go for a walk and clear my head. At the center of campus I found several hundred other students gathering to pray. That was only three weeks into my freshmen year of college. They say it was the event that will define our generation.
Nicole Kastrukoff – Manitoba, Canada
I woke up just like any other day and got ready for school. My gym class started at 8:45…we were waiting around for our teachers when they came in a little before 9. They had us sit on the cold gym floor and told us what happened…I remember the day just being dark and cold. I live in Canada, but it still had a dramatic effect on the city …I remember some kids didn’t come to school for days in fear that it could happen where we lived… I went home and watched more coverage. The most shocking thing for me was the people leaping from the twin towers… I can’t help but be full of remorse for those who didn’t know Christ. Any future opportunities for them to know Him were now dashed. God bless those who did know Him.
Brian Becker – Portland, OR
September 11, 2001. The phone rings…"We’re at war! We’re at war! We’re under attack!"… Moments later everything changed. The TV was on, phone calls were being made, and we were trying to track down my in-laws who were 30,000 feet above ground in an airline going from Maryland to Chicago. Later we find out they had to circle the airport for 2 hours, but had successfully landed. Stuck in Chicago, it wasn’t until three days later they were able to take a train from Chicago to Portland. Never again did we take each other for granted; never again would America be the same.
Curt Lamm – Lakeside, MT
I work with a non-profit organization that did some relief work at Ground Zero… We worked with the Red Cross and Salvation Army feeding the rescue workers as they worked in shifts. Most of our time was spent there making sure the workers had enough food and cleaning up after those who had eaten. I think I went to New York with a romanticized notion that I would see chivalry in full effect…but my experience there felt more surreal and cerebral than tangible…I’m not sure that I will ever have a concrete memory of working at Ground Zero. That’s the dilemma with our memory…it can be contorted and manipulated to suit our purposes to accomplish most anything. It is fluid, and while the song remains the same, sometimes the lyrics change. But one thing I know for certain is this: life is not going to bow to our wishes and how we react says much about who we are. My memory of New York City says that she will be fine. She chose life.
You can read RELEVANTmagazine.com’s review of United 93 here.