What I Remember
That unforgettable morning.


How is it that some memories from years ago still seem like yesterday?

We were watching the first Monday Night Football game of the season at a popular sports hangout. As we prepared to leave, he mentioned to me that he was off to visit an East Coast naval base before sunrise with his admiral.

No one could begin to imagine the hellish nightmare that was to mark the early morning light.

Earlier that year he had been reassigned to a Pentagon post from patrolling the ocean depths in a nuclear submarine. I was living at a Catholic parish that was located just down the street from the White House. Among many other activities, our Washington reunion inspired us to prepare all summer for the Marine Corps marathon that we were going to run together in October.

When I first caught sight of the black plume of smoke ominously rising from the Pentagon the next morning, I immediately knew the hijacked commercial jet had slammed into the wedge where his naval detail was located. Almost instantaneously I received a series of panicked messages from D.C. friends who were unable to locate spouses and other family in the Capitol, the White House, and elsewhere. The sudden roar of military aircraft above and the growling of humvees on the streets heightened apprehension.

Rumors quickly swirled of another commandeered airliner that was headed toward a downtown target.

The two greatest towers fell in New York City. Soon thereafter, the bewildering rumors were confirmed: A fourth commercial jetliner had crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Later the world learned that its destruction had been brought about by self-sacrificing citizens whose bold heroism prevented the passenger jet from being used as a weapon of even greater destruction in the nation’s capital.

A message verified that my friend’s life had been spared.

All told, some 3,000 innocent people were slaughtered by Muslim fanatics on Sept. 11, 2011. The intentional killing of innocents is murder. The invocation of God to justify such unspeakable crimes is sheer blasphemy.

In the intervening years I have heard the claim that time heals. That is a lie. Good choices over time bring about restoration and recovery. Ten years later, I am closer to understanding the power of the evangelist’s divinely inspired words: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overtake the light” (John 1:5).

—Rev. David W. Nuss is the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Sandusky, Ohio.


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