On September 11, I, like many of you, was keenly aware ofwhere I was and what I was doing when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Like you, I find it hard to believe that fateful day was eighteen years ago. Many of us remember it like it was yesterday. The overwhelming emotions of shock, grief, and anger fell over us like a wet blanket suffocating the very breath out of us.

All these years later, I still find myself asking “why?” — a question I still cannot answer. With each passing day, week, month, and year, I ask why is there so much hatred in the world. It breaks my heart that children are experiencing “active shooter drills” in school, even before they learn to read and write.

All these years later, I fear much of what we learned as a result of 9/11 is being lost to time and apathy.

Today, there are those who never heard of 9/11. Others simply know about the events of September 11, 2001 through history books and the stories their parents and grandparents tell.

My fear is that what the younger generation is learning about 9/11 is nothing more than facts and numbers.

  • 19 men hijacked 4 fuel-loaded US commercial airplanes bound for west coast destinations.

  • A total of 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, DC, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

  • At the World Trade Center (WTC) site in Lower Manhattan, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers, or as a result of the crashes.

  • Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers, and 37 were officers at the Port Authority.

  • The victims ranged in age from 2 to 85 years. Approximately 75-80% of the victims were men.

  • At the Pentagon in Washington, 184 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.

  • Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 died when the plane crashed into a field. It is believed that the hijackers crashed the plane in that location, rather than their unknown target, after the passengers and crew attempted to retake control of the flight deck.

  • As of July 2019, 1,644 (60%) of 2,753 WTC victims’ remains have been positively identified, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Timeline: September 11, 2001

  • 8:46 a.m. ET – American Airlines Flight 11 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

  • 9:03 a.m. ET – United Airlines Flight 175 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

  • 9:37 a.m. ET – American Airlines Flight 77 (traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles) strikes the Pentagon Building in Washington.

  • 9:59 a.m. ET – South tower of WTC collapses in approximately 10 seconds.

  • 10:03 a.m. ET – United Airlines Flight 93 (traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco) crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

  • 10:28 a.m. ET – North tower of WTC collapses. The time between the first attack and the collapse of both World Trade Center towers is 102 minutes.

We must never allow time, busyness, or apathy to reduce folks to nothing more than a statistic… to facts and numbers.

As I was driving visiting shut-ins on 9/11 of this year, I was listening to the radio. I learned that the very first fireman killed in New York City that day was a result of a body landing on him as a result of a man jumping out of a tower window.

So many lives were turned upside down that day and forever changed. September 11, 2001 is not just a sentence in a history book.

This is not about statistics. Each number represents a son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother. Each person lost had dreams, goals, and aspirations. Each and every one was looking forward to going home to loved ones.

It is my prayer that if we learned nothing else form September 11, 2001, it will be that we see each other… truly see each other as our brothers and sisters.

Pastor Russel