I like so many others cried and prayed for weeks about the attacks. I especially remember the people who were so desperate that they jumped off the burning buildings to their deaths as I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort them. I remember the touching last minute phone calls from the victims to their loved ones, most calmly trusting in God and praying as they knew their fate was sealed. I also remember the courageous men and women on the United Flight 93, who fought back and chose to crash and die rather than to let the plane be used as a weapon of hate.
My birthday was a few days after 9/11 and I had planned to take my first trip to New York City and celebrate by dining at Windows of the World, a famed restaurant in the World Trade Center. I really felt like I could have been one of the people there so I desperately wanted to be of help to the survivors and responders. Despite the fact that my back was out, I tried to volunteer with the Red Cross for the Pentagon and was rejected. Instead, I spent time talking to and praying for the baby-faced armed U.S. soldiers stationed within the metro trains, as I traveled to my doctors and physical therapist in DC and Maryland.
I was finally able to help the responders because God made it possible for me to work on a health grant for them even though I applied for it after the deadline. I got top level training on managing man-made and natural disasters with a team of doctors who were also WTC first responders on 9/11. I also had the opportunity to examine these heroes and to help them get help for their resulting medical problems. Most importantly, I was able to pray for them and encourage them to believe God! It marked the first time that I had ever talked so openly about God and faith to any patients in the continental U.S. and I know that I am a stronger Christian because of this experience.
Over the past two years, I had been very disappointed by Los Angeles' response to and lack of commemoration of 9/11. Most people seemed apathetic and distant to the importance of the day and that even includes coverage on the local news programs. This year L.A. has redeemed itself as I saw snippets of the community's concern all through my day today. First, friends at church talked about how their faith grew after the events, then some 20-something Christians at the Americana who remarked how they can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time of the attack, which is chilling because they had to have been young teens at the time. On my way home, I pass a community center with it's flag at half mass and saw passer-bys looking at it solemnly. When I got home, I turned on TV and the Mayor(who I'm not a fan of) gave a good speech on honoring the day and heroic Americans.
Later that night, I exercised in the gym and watched President Obama's speech to commemorate 9/11. I still don't like the community service thing being lumped with 9/11 but the President's speech was nice. I then watched two 9/11 tribute documentaries one msnbc and TBN. As I watched the events on fold on TV, I was hearing police, fire and ambulance sirens like surround sound and it felt like I was at WTC for real or at least in a virtual reality game. I took off my earphones and realized that the sounds were coming from outside my apartment building and not the TV.
I could hear the police, ambulance and fire trucks as they pulled up outside and a helicopter flying over with a search spotlight. It reminded me of post-9/11 D.C. with the near constant military fly over and reconnaissance cover after the airspace was restricted. I looked out to the street and saw 5-7 police cars, a firetruck and then an ambulance pulled up. Again, I was in disaster mode and started getting prepared to evacuate. It turned out that it was a criminal fleeing the police and had holed up in a business office. The police had sent in the dogs for him and he looked injured as they helped him onto a stretcher. Some would say that this is typical L.A. stuff I guess but it is very unusual for my neighborhood.