September 11th, 2001: A Day of Contrasts

September 11th, 2001: A Day of Contrasts

 When I was growing up, I recall my mother reflecting on where she was and what she was doing when she heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963. My older sisters were in school. I was told that I was in my playpen in the living room at home. I was 18 months old. My generation has another date etched in our minds. September 11th, 2001.

I do recall where I was at 9:00 that morning. I was checking out of a hotel in Oklahoma City as reports of the first jet hitting the trade center were being relayed on the news. That morning I was on my way to be with a family whose 21 year son was critically injured in a car crash the previous Friday. He died the next day.

I found myself in the waiting room of an Intensive Care Unit at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City watching the news regarding all three of the planes. I was with people who all had family members in that hospital unit whose lives were hanging in the balance. A couple hours after the initial news from New York broke a 14 year old gunshot victim was transferred from the Trauma Center on the first floor to the ICU unit where a group of strangers were trying to support one another.

What was I thinking that day? Honestly I don’t remember. I was on information and emotional overload. In looking back on that morning, it occurs to me that I was with a group of people who understood the value of human life at a level that the average person would not comprehend in normal circumstances. Each of them had loved ones who had suffered some kind of major trauma. Their sons had been in car crashes. Their brother was a gunshot victim. The list was pretty lengthy, because the unit was very full that day. There was no shortage of opportunity to minister to friends and strangers alike.

In total contrast, there were people on the other side of the country who had no concern whatsoever for human life. They were willing to board commercial airliners and set off a chain of events that would ultimately kill thousands of people. I still have difficulty grasping that level of evil intent 9 years later.

I would not realize until the next day that the contrasts were not over yet. First responders with the Fire Department of New York and several law enforcement agencies gave the ultimate sacrifice, because they too valued human life. They gave their lives for strangers, as they fulfilled their duties that day.

As I pray today for the families of those heroes and for countless others impacted by the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, I hope that I value other people to the extent that I should. I hope that I display a basic respect for human life in everything that I do.

I am grateful for my calling to serve those who protect and serve. On the anniversary of this event, I am made aware once again of the gravity of my duties. The men and women who put on badges have committed their lives to protect and serve. Basic respect for human life characterizes so much of what they do. Perhaps it would serve me well to remember where I was 9 years ago today. While the men and women were risking their lives on the East Coast to protect and serve, there were servants in Oklahoma City doing the same for those who were in that ICU unit that fateful day…May God bless our public servants today.

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