Where Were You?

September Eleventh.

I doubt there is any way that someone could not know what today is and what today commemorates.  Between the news headlines and the Facebook updates about today, everyone has to be aware of the date and the event that occurred ten years ago.

I think that the Facebook post that caused me to think the most was from a high school friend.  Her son asked her, “What are we supposed to do on 9/11?” Her answer was great, “The best answer I could think of was remember and pray.”


I remember the day clearly.

Our family had moved to Scotland for a year of study, travel, and fun in August 2001.  What an adventure!  The kids, Kerry, and I dragged eight suitcases and four backpacks from the Minneapolis airport, through Atlanta and Paris airports, and landed in Edinburgh.  Within hours of touching down “across the pond,” we hand unpacked most of our belongings, Kerry had settled in for a nap, and I had gone to the pay phone on the corner to call home to report that we had arrived safely.  After those phone calls, I made the phone calls to set up phone and internet service in our flat so that we could be connected to the rest of the world.  I do not think more than a few hours passed before BT (presumably British Telephone) had shortened the distance between us and family to only a phone call away.

A week or two later, we had integrated well into Scottish life.  The kids went to school at Stockbridge Primary School.  Kerry attended classes in the divinity school at the University of Edinburgh.  And I kept busy working at Starbucks and at a bookstore known then as James Thin while I worked on getting my Scottish teaching license.  We spoke almost daily to our parents back in the states thanks to long distance rates of less than three cents a minute.

Because we spoke with our families so often, it did not surprise us on Septemeber 11, 2001, when the phone rang around 3:30 in the afternoon as the kids and I returned from their school.  I can still hear my mom’s voice as she said that they were ok, and I can still remember my confusion about what she meant.  As I listened to her tell me what she knew, I jumped online and discovered that the world had changed with a plane crashing into the Twin Towers.

I worked at the bookstore two nights a week, and I was scheduled to work that evening.  Even though Kerry and I were shocked by the events, it seemed far away – distant.  I did not even think twice about going to work that evening.  I walked to work and noticed that the streets of New Town, usually busy with walkers and bus riders, had an eery feeling to it.  No one was about.

I arrived at the bookstore and found my co-workers standing around a radio as they listened to the BBC recount the Flight 93 crash.  My co-workers were stunned by the events of the day and were even more surprised to see me.  They had assumed that I would not come to work.  We spent the next few hours mindlessly tending a shop that had no customers.  I think we may have closed early.

My boss at the bookstore recounted how he had stopped at the pub for a pint on the way to work an hour before our shift.  He saw scene of the plane that crashed into the Twin Towers and asked the bartender what American film they were showing on the “telly.”  When they told that it was the news, he was shocked.  The entire United Kingdom seemed to have the same reaction: If it can happen on US soil, there is nowhere that is safe anymore.


We need to remembering the attacks, we need to remember those who died in the attacks, and we need to remember the heroic acts of those who saved lives whether by pulling people out of rubble or by downing a plane in Pennsylvania.  However, we also need to remember that terrorism, war, and conflict stem from the human condition of sin.  The events of September 11, 2001, are – no doubt – horrible; however, as we remember them, we need to check our hearts and be sure that the emotions we feel stir us into an action that can have the most impact on our world: Prayer.

We need to pray for change in our world, and we need to be prepared to be the answer to that prayer.  If we do not pray, our remembering is worthless.  If we are not willing to be the answer to that prayer, our prayers are meaningless.  We can stand by and look at memorials, but remembering is pointless if it does not stir us to be better or to do better.

Ten years have past since the towers came down, how has prayer impacted our world in those ten years?  How will prayer change our lives in the next ten years?

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