I was preparing to leave the house to drop my son off at pre-school that sunny Tuesday morning.
Like many of you, I never dreamed that I’d see such a thing on live television just a few minutes later.
We’re 15 years away from that day, but many memories of the hours that followed are still vivid today for me.
In Princeton, students in school were glued to televisions in the cafeteria and classrooms. Police officers were posted at schools, at day cares and other locations.
Everyone went a little crazy about filling up their gas tanks.
And many, many, many people gathered at local churches that evening, looking for fellowship and spiritual solace.
I worked that night and in the course of reporting on the local events, attended two different community events at churches.
Both churches were absolutely packed.
That’s something for a Tuesday night, but it was a perfectly natural reaction. When we don’t have answers, we go to God.
It’s no coincidence that as those local community prayer services were in progress, some 150 members of Congress gathered at the steps of The Capitol and sang “God Bless America.”
They didn’t sing “Republicans bless America” or “Democrats bless America” or “Let our military bless America.”
They sang “God Bless America.”
A few days later, the nation watched Evangelist Billy Graham speak these words from the Washington National Cathedral.
“...We desperately need a spiritual renewal in this country, and God has told us in His Word time after time that we need to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way.
“There also is hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. That is the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart...”
President George Bush declared Sept. 14 as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, and a few weeks later, Congress declared Sept. 11 as Patriot Day.
In the week that followed, back here in Gibson County, groups gathered for their own memorial vigils. Wood Memorial High School students and staff formed a human “USA” emblem on the football field.
At Toyota, team members heard a word from Bethel Memorial Church Pastor Kevin Wilson, who quoted Psalms 46, reminding that no matter what happens, God is our refuge.
In the next few months and years, patriotic events and anniversary programs were still significant reminders of that day.
But as the years passed, the prayer vigils became smaller. The community events, more subdued.
This Sunday in Gibson County, churches and communities in Gibson County are remembering first responders and military service members who put their lives in harm’s way to protect others.
Others are also participating in a national prayer initiative, known as “Cry Out America.” Each year on Sept. 11, the Cry Out America campaign encourages the faith community to “join every state, every county, every church, and every heart together in earnest prayer for America.”
According to the organization’s website, on Sept. 11, believers from across the nation gather at state capitols, county courthouses, churches, and community centers to pray for a spiritual awakening
This Sunday, in addition to watching the commemorative activities, I will be one of those people praying for a real awakening that stays with us, that is not just a part of some day to commemorate.