"Sorry I'm late, some plane hit a building in New York. Don't worry, it will be a made-for-TV-movie by the holidays." said Coach Lance Lowry as he arrived for my 8am handball class at Texas A&M. Little did we know how different the world would look when class ended 40 minutes later.
Coach Lowry arrived at 8:10 (CST) for class. I remember this exactly because for an 8am class, everyone pays a lot of attention to the 10 minute rule. If the professor doesn't show after 10 minutes, everyone walks. But he did and we had a full class on the technic one should use to strengthen their weak hand returns. When class was over, I walked up to the gym's juice bar and grabbed a banana and a smoothie. I sat down in the lounge area with the intention of finishing some homework. But, there in the front of the room was of a big screen TV tuned into CNN.
As I sat down, the first tower fell.
It was not going to be a normal day.
I walked over to the Memorial Student Center and used a land line (I didn't have a cell at that point) there to call my family and talk briefly about what was going on. As I walked through the halls, TV from classrooms on rolling stands were being positioned for people to gather around.
Then the second tower fell.
I logged into to the main webpage for the school to see if there were any announcements about changes in schedules, or the all important, classes being canceled announcement. Nothing yet. I checked a couple more times throughout the morning, but ended up going to my 2:10 Economics class.
I did not want to be there.
"I know you don't want to be here," began my frequently rather grumpy professor. "But you know what, those evil people that took down the towers today, they didn't want you to be here either. They wanted to mess with the life that you have as an American and change what it means to have the freedoms that we have. Don't let them. Live the life with the freedom that you've been given as an American and don't give those terrorists an inch. Now, onto the ways in which a demand curve indication of marginal utility..."
I knew a couple people that were in the Towers when they got hit, but they were on the 16th floor and made it out with no problem. I filled up my truck with gas because I was worried about the prices increasing the next day. I went over to a friends house and had burgers that night by the pool.
Now, a decade later, I live in New York. I live just over a mile away from where the Towers stood. I can see One World Trade rising from the still gapping hole in the ground when I walk out my front door. I wasn't a New Yorker when the Towers fell, but I am now. And this morning, I took full advantage of my proximity and the gorgeous sunrise to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same in the 10 years since the world stopped turning.
President Obama didn't have any remarks this morning. He felt, and I agree with him, that the Psalmist summed up what needed to be said perfectly in the 46th Psalm:
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.