I awoke to a full schedule in my calendar. The night before, I had arrived in Phoenix hoping to get some rest. I was preparing for an important meeting and a critical hospital visit. I felt fortunate that our designated hotel happened to be right next door to St. Joseph's Hospital and Barrows Neurological Center. Two days earlier a young man from our church had suffered a very serious accident on a mountain bike and I wanted to pray with him as soon as he was out of surgery.
Hoping to clear my brain and jumpstart my cardiovascular system, I stepped out of the hotel and down the street into the fashionable Encanto district for a brisk walk. Rush hour was still almost two hours away. Enjoying the cool September morning, the sound of birds and the view of the old, restored houses I strode along block after block.
Feeling refreshed, I stepped back through the front doors into the hotel lobby, surprised at the number of people gathered around the televisions near the breakfast area. I looked over to see what they were staring at and saw the smoke pluming out of one of the World Trade Center towers. "It would be horrible to be in there right now," I thought, not knowing what was happening. I watched, heard the commentators on the TVs and the exclamations of concern around me. By now, I needed to get back to my room to prepare for my morning meeting. I went upstairs and turned on the television to hear the latest as I cleaned up.
I received a call from one of our daughters on my cell phone. Now, things were beginning to rush out of control. A plane was filmed flying into the second tower and we knew we were under attack. How far did it extend? Was every large city in danger? Then, one at a time, the towers collapsed.
I made the hospital visit and attended the meeting that day, little understanding that 9/11/01 was the day that changed everything for this nation. I was due to fly to Chicago the next morning; obviously the trip was cancelled. Instead, I drove back to Yuma that afternoon, experiencing both tears and hope.
The hope came from a radio report where I heard members of congress; women and men, black and white and hispanic, often foes across the congressional aisle. They shared a statement and together sang, "God Bless America." I am crying as I remember it. Another source of hope came from local reports in Phoenix, telling of long lines at blood banks with people wanting to do anything -- including giving their own lifeblood -- to help.
The tears were as I walked into the door of our home and took Cathy in my arms. We were under attack, but that day...that day we and our family were safe.
Our hearts go out to every family touched by 9/11. To the many Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force as well as the many law enforcement, firefighters and DHS personnel who are part of us, thank you! We can't say it enough.