Remembering 9/11

image seered in mind

This is the image seered in my mind.

People always say they remember exactly where they were when they learn of a tragedy. Fourteen years ago, I was feeding my 2-month-old son and watching a bit of the TODAY show. I will never forget the breaking news that an airplane had just hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I watched in horror as the second plane hit and the towers came crumbling down. I saw people jumping to their deaths and the entire streets fill up with smoke and dust. The hair still stands up on my arms when I think about it. In tears, I remember placing my innocent baby down in his crib, and crying, “Lord, what kind of world did I just bring this child into?” I was scared, sickened and sad for our country.

Sylvesters 2001

Labor Day, 2001


I just finished reading Hoda Kotb’s book “Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives.” While it wasn’t particularly well written, the stories are truly unbelievable — and inspiring. One of the persons featured was Ron Clifford, who had a meeting at the World Trade Center the morning of 9/11. After his meeting, Ron was planning to go home and celebrate his daughter’s 11th birthday. Ron was in the lobby when the planes hit. In the midst of utter chaos, he encountered a woman in dire need of help. She was burned over 90% of her body (from falling jet fuel) and couldn’t see. He eventually found her medical help. He then fled to the harbor, where he was the last man to get on a ferry to New Jersey — and saw the Twin Towers collapse. To add to the horror, Ron learned his sister and 4-year-old niece were among the passengers on United Flight 175 from Boston — the plane that hit the building he had been standing in. While he can’t go near the site of the now-memorial, he has been a key player as a witness in the trial against Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, and is now one of 40 civilians due to give evidence at the military tribunal of Sheik Mohammed.

Every time we travel with our kids, we remind them that before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, airport screening was completely different. We didn’t have to pack our liquids separately, or take off our shoes, or walk through metal detectors. In fact, when I was in elementary school, we actually ran around the international airport at night playing tag and watching the planes come in — and we didn’t have tickets to go anywhere!

Sometime after 9/11, I came upon these verses in John 16:2-3. Jesus warns “in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” Now, I don’t know about you, but that just gives me chills.

I am saddened by how our world has changed for us and for our children. Yet, there are stories like Ron’s, which remind me there are good people in the world. I am praying for those who wake up not just today, on 9/11, but every day, missing the ones they love. It’s the worst part of life…that thing called death.

Now I’m not a theologian or preacher or anywhere close, but I do love my Jesus. And I will lean on the big promise Jesus offers a little further into John 16. Verse 33 declares: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In spite of the inevitable struggles we face, we are never alone. Because God created us in his likeness, he has given us as humans choices: choices to do good or do evil. Some choose evil. And while God never promises that evil won’t affect us, he does promise us he is always with us. Through Jesus, the ultimate victory has already been won and justice will be served; we can claim the peace of Christ in the most troublesome times. And while we can’t take the day back, we can remember: the lost, the loved, the heroes and the stories.

9:11 rainbow

This photo was taken yesterday in NYC and posted on a news station’s website — especially symbolic the day before the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.


So tell me, where were you on that day?

Julee sig 2014_pink_xoxo-1_edited-1

8 Comments on Remembering 9/11

  1. Heather Aughenbaugh
    September 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm (2 years ago)

    I will never forget. I was packing the car to take my son to our bi-weekly playgroup.
    He was watching Barney & I turned to the today show for a reason I do not remember or even know. I saw the 1st plane hit & it made me feel sick. We left our house & I drove 20 minutes thinking it was a drunken pilot, a pilot that passed out and never once thought terroristic attacks. I never imagined the towers could or would fall. As we sat at the playdate the story unfolded. I left. we all left because, we were so close to the many targeted areas…Camp David, D.C. & VERY close to Three Mile Island. My neighbor was deployed by noon. People were coming home from work early. Planes were crazy above my house for months. It was the only time I ever regretted Motherhood. How could I bring a child into this madness? Many people in my area lost loved ones. It was years before I stayed outside when a plane flew over. I will never be comfortable flying or being in an airport. It was such a sad day & if I am being honest there are so many times that I wonder when the next attack will come. We were supposed to fly to Disney 9/11 of the 1 year anniversary & I changed our flights to 9/12. I could not sit in an airport before boarding watching the footage. The next day wasn’t easier. Life has forever been changed…innocence has forever been lost in many ways. I cannot imagine how those without belief in a higher power made it through.

    • Julee
      September 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm (2 years ago)

      I love hearing your story, Heather!

  2. Debbie Nelson
    September 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm (2 years ago)

    I was sitting on the sofa in my living room, holding my sleeping little one in my arms, thinking something a lot like the thought you had, “What is this world going to be like for my daughter, if something tragic like this can happen to us?” I remember being very fearful for myself, my family, our communities, and our entire country. It truly rocked my world, as it did everyone’s. I remember lying in bed that night just praying for the deceased, their families, and all the citizens of the United States.

    When I reflect on 9/11, I feel like I am watching a movie in slow motion that stays quite vivid in my mind.

    • Julee
      September 13, 2015 at 1:35 pm (2 years ago)

      Slow motion…I couldn’t agree more. I get so somber watching the footage and thinking of everything people went through. It’s unimaginable. Thanks for sharing, Debbie!

  3. Tonia
    September 11, 2015 at 3:25 pm (2 years ago)

    I was 9 months plus pregnant with my first child, and as an American Airlines flight attendant, I was on maternity leave, so not flying out of my home airport JFK. My world changed, my career changed and though I headed back to work when my daughter was 5 months old, it was difficult to think about the What Ifs, especially as she was so young. Now, 14 years later, I’m still a flight attendant and honor those crewmembers and their awful final flights. Please know that there was valuable information about the terrorists passed on by phone by crew, that helped those on the ground figure out what was happening! Also, there certainly WAS screening in 2001 – it’s been around since before I started in 1987.

    • Julee
      September 11, 2015 at 3:53 pm (2 years ago)

      Wow, interesting perspective, Tonia. Thanks for sharing. I can only imagine your thoughts on that day, especially since your home base was JFK. And thanks for correcting me on the airport screening…I know that bags were scanned but TSA certainly didn’t exist!

  4. jamie
    September 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing Julee.

    I was getting on a plane in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. One of my co-workers was late boarding (so we waited while he got coffee)…I was watching CNN and suddenly we saw the news flash. People all around us were screaming and falling to the ground (as we were just north of NY…they knew people in NYC). We boarded and I remember being so terrified…scouring each person as they boarded. Then we had to get off the plane…as they closed all air- ways into the US. We were informed all International flights were being diverted to Halifax…which we knew was going to cause more chaos.

    We were lucky enough to rent a van (full of 6 co-workers) and drove 6 hours to attend a business meeting we had scheduled in St. John, New Brunswick. The borders were closed so we knew we were stuck.

    I think we were not allowed to enter the US for 5 days or something. Once they lifted the air ban; the airports were crazy. We each stood in line for an airline no matter where it was going; just so we could get into the US. We ended up booking a flight to Detroit (with more layovers) and finally arrived home after 3 days or more of travel. My company was more than willing to get us home safely. I was married, so it was hard to be away from my husband. A very scary time for us all.

    May we remember those who lost their lives that day and celebrate the heroes that helped save the survivors.

    • Julee
      September 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm (2 years ago)

      Wow! That is quite the story! Thanks for sharing it, Jamie.


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