Every year we have the same conversation and it starts with “where were you on September 11?” Then, it is often followed by something like “oh, I also remember where I was when” the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, Princess Diana died, President Kennedy was shot, or Pearl Harbor was attacked, among others. When our world changes it sticks with us.
So, every year I re-tell this story. On September 11, I was in the law library at the UT College of Law preparing for business associations class. As I walked out the library doors I was met by a friend, Ben, he told me that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center (“WTC”). We talked about it for a moment – I asked if it was an accident and he said, no, they think it is a terrorist attack. I wasn’t sure what to say.
I made my way to the cafeteria where other students were gathered around a tiny television. We all stood in silence as we watched the news on NBC. We all watched WTC Tower 2 collapse. People cried, gasped, and covered their faces.
Shortly after I walked away from the group to go to class. As I walked to the lecture hall in rear of the first floor I remember hearing people announce that their classes had been cancelled. I wondered if mine would be cancelled as well.
I took my assigned seat in business associations and waited. My professor, a great lady and a scholar, took the podium and she said something that remains with me today. She told us that we would have class. Not because she was uncaring, disrespectful, or heartless. No, quite the opposite.
She lost family members in the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. She told us that, yes, we will have class. We will go on with our day and “we will not let terrorists disrupt our lives” and stop us from living because “that is what they want us to do.” They want to paralyze us with fear.
We had class.
I think about my professor and what she told us, or at least how I remember it, every year on this day. We may not be able to stop or prevent terror, but we can prevent it from stopping us. It is good and necessary to honor the lost and to thank the heroes of that day. But what is most important is that we continue to LIVE. Live in spite of our loss, live for those that are gone, and live without fear.
But the Lord is faithful and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians. 3:3 (NIV).