A New Page of
by Alan Mullikin
“Hey! Y’all need to come in here and
Our pastor’s voice, usually spiked
with joy and exuberance, had a commanding edge to it that I had never heard before.
The date? September 11,
We were preparing for our staff
meeting when all of a sudden the pillars of freedom in this nation were shaken. Maybe even
cracked. We gathered around a small TV in the church
office. An orange fireball explosion played on the cable
news. Reports of a small plane hitting one of the Twin
Towers in New York City flowed out of one of the talking heads.
I have to admit, after so many
terrorist attacks around the world, even the failed one at the same location in 1993, my heart had become
desensitized to what I had just seen. Probably some Cessna, perhaps a tour
plane flying around Manhattan got off course. Yes, that had to be it. Sure, some casualties but…just the few in
the aircraft. Tragedy? Yes, but hardly a crisis. But then again, the explosion seemed too large to have been
made by such a small plane.
We stared wide-eyed at the
evolving scene. We kept our ears open for unending updates. Then – bam! The second tower was struck. I could see better this time, a full passenger
jet! I knew right away, a terrorist attack!
The enemy had hit the economic heart of the
nation: New York City, the Twin Towers close to Wall Street. My body from feet to brain numbed. All my senses dulled. I watched people fleeing from the scene
covered with dust and blood. Their eyes were wide eyed in disbelief and shock. I could make out figures of
people hurling themselves down hundreds of feet to escape dying in the horrific flames. These were my fellow
citizens! Americans! It was a scene straight out of Hell!
My soul screamed this can’t be happening in my country!
Time for me seemed to transition into some kind
of slow motion. Every ounce of strength, of intensity in my being was focused on the unfolding drama in front of
Right away we joined hands and began to
pray. There had to be thousands
of casualties. Later we learned there were close to three thousand, even more than Pearl Harbor, but much less
than if it had occurred just a little later.
We cried out for the Lord to pour out His
mercy and grace. Then came the news of a jet liner
slamming into the Pentagon. Having been in the US Army Band, I had played many ceremonies on the octagon’s lawn.
Was that carpeted green grass now a field filled with burning debris, or even worse, hundreds of
My indignation and anger rose. They
struck the very command center of our military!We sat stunned.
Could there be more horror and shock before the day ended? How much could the nation withstand? How could such
an atrocity happen in the first place?
The final blow came not in New York City or
Washington DC. It happened on a field in western Pennsylvania. Apassenger jet crashed head first, at full speed, into the farm
land. I don’t quite remember if the facts behind this
crash were made late on 9-11 or on 9-12. We found out
soon enough that a group of passengers had banded together to wrest control of the plane from the terrorist
hijackers and caused it to crash before it reached any populated areas. Their leader, Todd Beemer had learned of
the day’s attack via his cell phone. Emboldened by saying the Lord’s Prayer with his mother, he led the brave
group of civilians.
My tears flowed. My emotion was boiling,
bubbling. I felt like a volcano eruption that could not be held back any longer.
Yes, our beloved America had
received a severe wound, but I knew that she would recover, just like we did from Valley Forge, the burning of
Washington DC in 1814, the early defeats of the Union Army in the Civil War, and Pearl
But I tell you with all sincerity, to those of my
family who are reading this. My confidence and the
confidence of a nation was shaken on 9-11-01.
I pray that the country you are now living in still
trusts in God, still believes in the tenets of the Constitution, and still is known as the United States of
America, the city on a hill, a beacon of light and hope for all nations.