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Metro Voice Readers share memories of the September 11 attacks and how it changed America

Metro Voice asked our friends and readers to share their memories of the September 11 attacks and the fateful day that changed America. Here are their stories.

Click here to read about our recent visit to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

 

 

george ayoubGeorge Ayoub, Pastor

Amman, Jordan

9/11 marks my first year I had moved to America. My family and I were forced to leave the Middle East when I was informed by the government that an Islamic radical group was planning to kidnap my daughter who was in first grade at the time. I had to look for a safer country for my family.

On 9/11 I stepped into my office to find two employees watching the news on a small TV screen. They asked me to come and see what had occurred. I looked, and I wasn’t surprised, I was used to seeing things like this constantly taking place in front of me. I witnessed things like my best friend getting shot, my aunt dying, and my father being severely injured due to war. However, my American friends did not understand why I wasn’t shocked at what had occurred. Then I witnessed the second plane hitting the second tower, and I realized that it wasn’t an accidental plane crash, rather a planned attack. That is when it hit me what happened was extremely serious. After this, I began to believe there is no safe country in this world. We can see this in how security began growing in airports. God called me to move back to the Middle East eight years ago to serve the Lord, realizing that danger has spread to all over the world.

The biggest change I witnessed after 9/11 is that the general awareness grew among Americans–people began understanding the opposition much better, they grew strong and learned how to fight against it. The ministry grew after this incident. People began supporting mission work located in dangerous areas of the world. I’m glad I know heaven is a safe place.

 

 

tina grayTina Gray, Finance Manager

Westside Family church, Lenexa, Kan.

I remember the morning of 9/11 well. I was home alone; my husband and two daughters had already left for work and school. As I went about my normal routine, I heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Stunned, I stood there staring at the TV; I couldn’t believe it and wasn’t sure what to do. I hurried off to work at Westside Family Church and walked into the office, where everyone was frozen watching the events unfold. The church office phone rang, I answered and a woman was crying uncontrollably. Her brother worked in one of the buildings and she had no way of knowing if he was ok. I prayed with her and tried to stay strong to comfort her.

The phone continued to ring all day. We opened up the church sanctuary for prayer and people came all day long to kneel in prayer.

It was very strange to be safe in Kansas while so much heartbreak and devastation was happening in New York. The sound of the woman crying on the phone will forever be a memory. She did call back later that day; her brother stopped to run an errand that morning; he was safe!!

I think 9/11 forever changed the citizens of the United States. It became a personal journey for us all to make sense of this tragedy and yet still go forward. It forced us to face the reality that terrorism was real and present in the USA.

 

 

maurice o'NeillMaurice O’Neill, Musician and teacher

Fayette, Mo.

Almost immediately, my mind started composing a song that I have since used with two church choirs and a community choir. A large portion of the anthem simply quotes the Isaac Watts hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past.”‬

 

 

carson_Ross_Blue_SpringsCarson Ross, Mayor

City of Blue Springs

I was in my last term as a member of the Missouri House of Representative serving 7 two-year years. I was in Jefferson City for the annual veto session and had breakfast at the Capital Plaza Hotel. On my way out of the hotel going to my truck I noticed on the Television in the atrium one of the twin towers smoking and the announcer saying it was hit by an airplane. My initial thought was it was an accident and headed to my office to watch the news coverage for more details.

It became clear in my office after the second plane hit the other tower that America was under attack. Being a combat infantry veteran of the Vietnam War my first thought was how do we respond. As time elapsed and the body count increased it was clearer to me that we can no longer take our safety for granted. America has not been the same since 9-11-01

 

 

julie johnson 2Julie Johnson

Newtown, Conn.

We lived in Lee’s Summit on 9/11/01. It was my daughter Elise’s 5th birthday. I had just returned from taking the boys to school when Mark called from the office, saying to turn on the television. I remember the horror of watching the day unfold. It was unreal.

It was perhaps the longest day I ever remember. Late in the afternoon of 9/11, my mother & I turned off the TV and went outside. It was a gorgeous day in Kansas City. I remember we grabbed a couple brooms and swept the patio in silence. We needed to get away from the horror of the news, but we could not stop thinking about it. It was like a fog had descended, and it took days if not weeks to lift.

In July of 2002 we moved to Connecticut, just 60 miles outside NYC. As the first anniversary of the attack approached, it was a frequent topic of conversation. More than once I was told that I just couldn’t understand the significance of that day, having lived in Kansas City during the attack. And to a point, I’m sure they were correct. Many of my neighbors and friends know someone personally who perished that day. But at the same time, I don’t think they understand how the entire country stopped after the attacks. It was monumental to us all.

 

 

delbert scottDelbert L. Scott, President, Kansas Christian College

Overland Park, Kan.

While walking out of my basement apartment in Jefferson City heading to a Missouri Senate breakfast I passed by a tv showing the live coverage of the plane hitting the first building. By the time I got to the breakfast the coverage was showing the second building being hit. Shortly after arriving at my office in the state capital, the first building collapsed and then the second. What a tragic loss of life. After a brief Senate session which included prayer, we were dismissed for the day. No one knew where the next strike would be.

America’s heart was turned back to God for a brief time. I spoke in schools in my district and in patriotic rallies from the Bible Soon we forgot how vulnerable we are and that we indeed need God’s favor.

The attack made us distrustful of those unlike us. Government regulations and oversight (TSA) brought on new rules and procedures.

We fought a war and were successful till we pulled out and all the sacrifice on men and women was to little long-term benefit.

 

 

craig_faithCraig Faith, Director of Public Safety, Emergency Manager, Councilman

Lee’s Summit

Early morning on 9/11/2001 I left my shift working as a Paramedic in Central Missouri. At that time I had about 17 years of experience working in Public Safety. In my career to date I enjoy the experience of working in the Fire Service, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Management. Then having worked the night shift, I went to sleep in the morning to prepare for my shift that night. I awakened to my son asking me about the events. I had no idea what he was talking about. Very soon after that my phone rang asking me to return to work early for a briefing and threat assessment. Looking around I saw gas prices soaring and many were preparing for the possibility of war on American soil.

I have always said that I cannot understand how anyone can work in Public Safety or Emergency Services without having faith in God. Having responded to numerous emergencies including hurricanes, floods, hazardous materials, bomb threats, active shooter, tornados, domestic violence, etc, I will say that none have brought me to my knees faster that 9/11. Although many of us did not directly respond to Ground Zero in New York , Pennsylvania, or the Pentagon, we all remain (15 years later) ready to protect, defend and render aid to those in need. We now see that we are vulnerable anywhere and at anytime. My only true hope of safety and security is not in this world. It completely lies in my faith. John 16:33 tells us that Jesus has overcome the world! I believe that whole heartedly. I invite anyone that wants to talk about that to call me. It is the one true emergency preparation that will never let us down.

 

 

vicky hartzlerVicky Hartzler, Congresswoman  MO 4th District

Harrisonville, Mo.

September 11, 2001, started out like every other day. I had just finished feeding breakfast to our 18-month-old daughter when Dennis, our neighbor who was serving as Cass County’s Farm Bureau president, stopped by with papers I needed to sign as board secretary. When I greeted him, he said, “I just heard on the radio that a plane has hit the Trade Towers in New York City. They think it’s an accident but they aren’t sure.” I turned on the TV and we stood spellbound watching the events unfold, horrified as we watched the fire, grieved for the victims, and trying to reckon the senselessness of it all. As we watched, a second plane appeared and slammed into the other tower and we knew this was no accident. Dennis quickly left to go home to his family and I called my husband. He came home and we watched in silence, shocked and sickened at the ensuing fall of the towers knowing our lives would never be the same. We went outside and saw a sight we’ll never forget: airplane trails looping in the sky as planes were ordered to turn around and land as soon as possible…and then nothing. Clear blue skies with NO trails. An eeriness that punctuated our uncertainty ensued.

Since then we have lost basic freedoms we took for granted. No longer can we quickly board a plane without being scanned or scrutinized. No longer can we pull up to the front of Missouri’s State Capitol or many other government buildings due to barricades. No longer can we assume everyone here appreciates freedom and is our friend. The perverse actions of a few have affected us all.

But our resolve is strong and our appreciation for the freedoms we do have and the sacrifices made by others before 9-11 and since 9-11 to stamp back evil and promote liberty are strong and true. We are more vigilant, more cautious, and, hopefully, more prayerful. We know that God is the source of our freedoms and He is our hope. In Him is our future and, for that, I can rest assured.

 

rik roeber“Barefoot Rick” Roeber

Lee’s Summit, Mo.

I remember the morning clearly. I was working at Sprint PCS in the Network Operations Control Center (NOCC). It was a clear, beautiful September morning. Someone came out of the control center to our offices and said that a plane had struck one of the twin towers in New York. My initial thought was a small plane had gone off course and slammed into the building. Entering the theater of the NOCC, the scene was playing out over and over again on the big screen TVs. We all watched in horror as the plane hit the tower. As we were watching, the second plane hit. My job with Sprint at the time was working in disaster recovery. For the next three weeks, I sat on conference calls working with the other carriers as workers combed through the wreckage. They were often following “pings” of cell phone transmissions and finding human remains at these locations. I will never forget this.

Our country returned to God, briefly, during this time. It showed that our enemies were evil and would stop at nothing to hurt us. I am reminded of Isa. 26:9 that states when the earth experiences judgement, then people learn righteousness. Unfortunately, this was short-lived. I believe we are once again asleep at the wheel and another calamity is just around the corner. Will this be the catalyst that propels God’s people into His arms? Time will tell.

 

Shmuel-color-180x180Shmuel Wolkenfeld, Rabbi, Or HaOlam Messianic Congregation

Overland Park, Kan.

On 9/11/01, I was in my office homeschooling my daughter when I received an email from one of my congregants with the news of the first tower, the north one, being hit. There was much uncertainty, and it was thought at first it was a private plane gone awry. Then we received another email, when the tower collapsed. We don’t own a TV, but after that I viewed news events on line, and saw the second tower go down.

Three of my kids and I had just been on the top of the towers the summer before. I am a native New Yorker, so took great pleasure pointing out the Queensboro 59th St. Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, etc. I introduced them to Nathan’s hot dogs in the deli on the 109th floor or so!

That event changed America forever. We are not fortress America anymore, safely removed from the wars of the world. To some extent, the event woke us up to the dangers of radical Islamism, and the weakness of our country caused by our own waywardness as a nation. Sadly, both awakenings were too ephemeral, and we are in a spate of denial of evil now, both within and without. We need an outpouring of personal repentance. Very timely to call for such as we approach the Biblical holidays of the sounding of the shofar trumpets of judgment on Rosh HaShannah!

 

 

Daniel Bunting

Topeka, Ks.

I was in school. I just walked in to math class and the security officer ran through the school and said that the nation was under attack. Then the school went under lock down.

 

 

Scott Hutson, Church volunteer

Kansas City, Mo.

On September 11, 2001, I was serving as youth director at a ministry that also had a Christian school. I heard some discussion coming from a classroom and stopped in to see what was on the television. It was shortly after that the second plane hit the south tower. Not believing what I was watching, my heart sank as I saw the towers collapse, knowing instantly that I had just witnessed the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of people. These memories give me the conviction that our freedoms are valuable and costly, and every member of our armed forces is worthy of our honor and respect.

 

 

lynda_RandleLynda Randle, Singer, songwriter, author

Kansas City, Mo.

I remember I was on my way to the Quartet Convention in Louisville Ken. And I remember driving with my two daughters and nanny in the car and needing to make a quick stop at the grocery store. Inside I happened to look up at a television screen and saw the video of the planes crashing into the twin towers and people in total panic and it was just unbelievable. Really surreal. When I got up to the counter to pay for our things the lady at the register said that she was so frightened and that we needed to call Dr. Billy Graham to pray for us. I remember telling her that yes, Dr. Graham is a wonderful man and God has used him in powerful ways but that we can also pray to Jesus ourselves, right here and right now. I thanked God for a chance to share Jesus and the power of prayer with that sweet woman.

And that night, when we finally arrived in Louisville for the Quartet Convention, I sang God On The Mountain, and everyone in the auditorium including myself was so overcome with raw, unfiltered emotion. That song took on a whole new meaning that day.

Fear. Fear is one thing that 9/11 birthed, never had I seen so many people afraid. But we also saw unity. People of different sorts coming together as one to help each other out. That is something worth holding on to.

 

 

Jim Jacob, Attorney

Overland Park, Kan.

I was at home helping with the homeschooling of our children. I think the message was loud and clear.: Our nation had been very blessed for several decades and avoided any attack but that can end it an instant. Each of us needs to get right with God right now!‬

 

 

Dan_DotyDan Doty, Executive Director, City Union Mission

Kansas City, Mo.

“I was in a meeting with three other staff members working on our new year’s budget. We stopped that budget meeting to watch the coverage for a time… and prayed! We were all in shock as was the rest of the nation. I spoke at a service club that noontime, and many of my comments were related to what our nation was currently experiencing.

“So much has changed, and seemingly for the foreseeable future. Major security changes at airports was first, but security in major venues has also gone through a total redo. It’s sad to think of possibly never being able to go back to pre-9/11 when we didn’t have the level of fear and distrust that we now have.”