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Revelations: Reflecting on Sept. 11

Sept. 9, 2011 at 4:09 a.m.

Jennifer Preyss

By Jennifer Preyss

It's hard to believe the Sept. 11 attacks happened 10 years ago. It doesn't seem all that long ago. But it's probably always going to be one of those life moments that I'll always remember as if it happened last week.

I don't have any connection to the shooting of John F. Kennedy, and I'm even further removed from the Pearl Harbor attacks, but I remember where I was when airplanes were carefully flown into the World Trade Towers in New York City.

It was a Tuesday, and I was 19 years old. I was a college student living in a downtown Atlanta apartment. For reasons I can't recall today, the night before Sept. 11, I decided to spend the night with my parents. Perhaps my roommate and I were having a tiff, who knows?

But the morning of Sept. 11, I soberly awoke to my father screaming up the stairs to my mother from the foyer below, "Vicky! Come down here! They've bombed the Pentagon!"

"What are you screaming about," my mother yelled back from her bedroom.

Frustrated with the noise, I rolled out of bed to investigate the commotion, intentioned, I'm sure, to silence the yelling.

I leaned over the upstairs banister and noticed a heavy look on my father's face and decided to follow him downstairs.

Still in my early morning fog, I stared at the information tickers scrolling at the bottom of CNN, and watched as newscasters commented about a plane crashing directly into the World Trade Center Tower, apparently on purpose.

One of the towers was still smoking, as I remember, as the commentators did their best to report the events with almost no information. As we watched in silence from the couch, my father and I watched the towers implode one at a time.

"Oh my God, did you see that?" Dad asked me.

I was still except for a slight head nod.

It seemed we didn't move or speak for the next few hours. That almost never happens at my house.

And my father, a native New Yorker, cried for maybe the fifth time in his life. Growing up, I didn't see Dad cry often, but he certainly cried that day.

My eyes welled with tears too, especially as we watched continuous footage of Tower employees jumping to their death from upper floor office windows. To say it was horrific is probably an understatement.

My heart broke that day for thousands of men and women and children I never knew. It broke for nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives to some political or religious agenda that had nothing to do with them. It broke for all their families, who would have to continue without them.

As the death toll continued to come in on the news, my father looked at me and said something I'll never forget: "Jenny, will you pray with me?"

Until that day, he'd never asked that of me.

Ten years ago, I hadn't accepted Christ in my heart, and the idea of praying with my dad was anything but comfortable. But something told me if my father was moved enough to pray, then I needed to oblige him.

So we joined hands and prayed that morning for the people who died in the attacks. And we prayed for the city of New York, and those all over the world who would inevitably know someone, a loved one perhaps, who died. And we prayed for justice, and peace, and for God to protect us from future attacks.

Later in the week, I remember how the world went quiet. And how for a time after Sept. 11, Americans reclaimed their patriotic duties, and sincerely demonstrated kindness to fellow Americans, just because it seemed like the right thing to do.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this story with you except that it seems like the most appropriate time to reflect on that solemn day.

Even 10 years later, I am continuing to pray for the families, and our country as we continue to heal as a nation. I hope Sunday's anniversary prompts us all to remember how Sept. 11 affected us. Good or bad, we must remember. And we must continue to pray.

Jennifer Preyss is a re porter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com.

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