9/11 Stories: A Look Back

On this 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, I’m posting several related stories below that The Christophers have used in our books and radio ministries over the years. Today, we honor the memories of those who were killed that day, and offer our continued prayers for their souls – and for the grieving families they left behind.
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Following the attack on New York’s Twin Towers, teacher Cheryl Sawyer wrote these words as a reflection: “As the soot and dirt and ash rained down, we became one color. As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building, we became one class. As we lit candles of waiting and hope, we became one generation. As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength, we became one faith. As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement, we spoke one language. As we gave our blood in lines a mile long, we became one body. As we mourned together the great loss, we became one family. As we retell with pride the sacrifice of our heroes, we became one people. We are United. We are America.”
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Following the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, all the nation’s airports were closed for security reasons. Newsweek reported that, at Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport, one woman decided to help some stranded passengers. Continental Airlines employee Susan Golden saw a multitude of people with nowhere to go when their flights were cancelled. So she called up her friends and asked them to offer lodging to as many of them as possible. And Susan herself put up seven people. She says, “It was such a joy having them here. It got us all so busy, taking care of each other and being together. It’s that kind of strength that America is all about.”
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Joshua Glick was in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, brought there by his job with an indoor landscaping company. In fact, he would have been within blocks of the World Trade Center if he and his partner hadn’t gotten a late start. His company dispatcher ordered the pair out of the city after news of the terrorist attack. But Joshua had one more unscheduled stop – his stepmother’s office. Not only did Joshua take his stepmother home, but five others from her midtown office – and about 40 more who hopped on board his truck as it traveled north; a mix of people from various professions, races and nationalities, sat side-by-side making the frightening journey together. They were a group of diverse people united by the actions of one thoughtful young man.
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“We’re the ones who get the blessing.” In making that statement, Tony Flowers of Vandalia, Illinois, expressed the feelings of many people who derive satisfaction from volunteering their time and talents to help others. Tony was one of the 1,000 Southern Baptists who traveled to New York City after the Sept. 11th attacks to help in whatever way they could. The group paid their own way and worked for free. Volunteers were unconcerned that, in many cases, they were cleaning the apartments of fairly wealthy residents. Paul Montgomery of Alabama told the New York Times, “These people have been traumatized. It doesn’t matter what level of affluence they had beforehand. They’ve suffered.”
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As a child, Chantyl Peterson was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a disease that stops the functions of bone marrow. Family members weren’t a match for a bone marrow transplant. But New York City firefighter Terry Farrell was. Terry had signed up with the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. His donation saved Chantyl’s life. Afterward, the six-year-old and her parents visited New York to meet Terry. A wonderful time was had by all. On September 11, 2001, the now teenage Chantyl watched television reports of the World Trade Center’s destruction. She worried about her old friend. Like many other firefighters, Terry Farrell died that day. Yet, even in death, the generous firefighter lives on in the young girl who will never forget his selfless gift.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.


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