Fifteen years ago today, (9/11/01) I received a call from Nat Irvin asking me if I heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was sitting in my office on the 13th floor. He called again minutes later to say it had happened again. And then we all would find out about the terrible tragedy unfolding. That evening, I wrote this column that appeared in The W-S Chronicle on (9/13).
I Cried Today
By Nigel Alston
‘The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.‘ — Joshua 1:9
I cried today.
I was overcome with the burden of loss. The loss of people, like you and me, who went to work, in New York and Washington, and didn’t make it home. People like you and me who boarded a plane for a destination they wouldn’t see at the end of the day.
I cried today.
I don’t know what you believe in or, for that matter, if you believe in a higher power or not. I do. That’s why I went to church tonight and knelt at the altar beside my sister and cried, as I prayed for those who died today, their family, relatives and friends, for me and for you.
My sister sent a package, Federal Express, to an employee in the World Trade Center Monday night, who worked on the 34th floor. It was delivered Tuesday morning at 8:15 am, shortly before a hijacked plane crashed into the building. We hope the person to receive the package was late for work or didn’t show up.
A package with my sister’s name on it, is in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Had she not been ill during the last few months, she too might have been in that building today instead of the package she mailed and I would still be crying.
My heart is heavy.
I kissed my wife this morning before she left for work. Someone else kissed their loved one too. I ate dinner with her this afternoon. Someone else thought they would, but didn’t know today was the last day for their loved one. I am sitting at home with my wife now. Someone else isn’t. They had planned to, but they didn’t know their plans would change so drastically.
I saw my sister tonight. I held her hand at the altar, as I prayed for you and me to get our act together, before it is too late.
Thousands of people will not get to do that tonight. It’s too late for them. I hope they kissed someone before they boarded the plane.
I hope they hugged someone before going to work and smiled at something that made them happy.
I was overcome at the altar trying not to lean on my own understanding.
A woman called her husband, on her cell phone, from one of the hijacked planes. It was their last conversation. Another man communicated with his wife by email moments before the building collapsed to the ground, disappearing from the skyline. I hope she printed off his last comments.
Jennifer was a witness today. I’ve known her since she was a little girl. I often tease her about going to Sunday School. She is married now and her mother and father cried today.
I sat beside Pat, Jennifer’s mother tonight. You see, Jennifer was supposed to be in that building today. Her feet hurt, so she missed the ferry, and while waiting for the second one, saw that first low flying plane as it crashed into the building.
That’s why we prayed at the altar tonight. We prayed for her and her husband, who works in the same building. He slept late today. Jennifer’s mother had tears in her eyes as she thanked God for her daughter and new son-in-law.
Another church member’s sister works in the Pentagon on the opposite side of the crash today. He is thankful too.
I am glad to know that I can go to the altar and cry and pray for you, me and the thousands of people who can’t pray tonight. And for their family and relatives.
I am OK now. I have nothing to complain about. Life is good. And, I will not take tomorrow for granted. I hope you don’t either.