I was standing up in front of my class. It was a little after 8AM. I don't remember what the students were doing, but they were working on their own. I was just standing there watching them enjoying the day. It was my 26th birthday so I was determined to have a good day and then go home and enjoy celebrating a little with my family. I happened to look over into my office. I had positioned my computer screen a long time before so it was facing out. I could always tell when I had a new email because it would highlight in blue. I happened to notice that I had a new one. Some, including my sweet wife, might tell you that I have a little email OCD. I can't stand letting my emails pile up and like to check them often. Sometimes too often. Ok, often too often. But since my students were working quietly and I wasn't actually teaching, I decided to see who the email was from. I'll never forget walking into my office and clicking on it. It was from another teacher, Darrell Blankenship in the high school. It was one sentence. It said..
"Two planes have just hit the World Trade Center in New York."
That was it. It wasn't signed. There was nothing else. I remember thinking....that has to be wrong. He's mistyped it. There's no way it's TWO planes. Maybe one plane, but not 2. I then walked toward the television in my classroom. I wanted to see if it was on the news. I remember thinking that it had to be a small plane....like a traffic reporter or something. There's no way a commercial airliner could accidentally fly into a building. I still thought it was just one plane. I turned on the TV and the image was immediately there. The World Trade Center....both buildings....on fire. I had been at the top of the World Trade Center before. I had been to New York with my family and had gone to the top like a lot of tourists do. It was a great view and a fun experience that I wouldn't forget. I couldn't believe that they were now BOTH on fire. It was true! 2 planes. A couple of the kids looked up from their work. "What is that, Mr. Thweatt?" I didn't answer. I just told them to keep working. Yeah, right. Not 10 seconds after I turned it on, the announcer broke in and said.."We are going to switch to a camera in Washington where we've just learned that a third plane has gone down into the Pentagon." What? My heart started beating faster and I got nervous immediately. Now I realized what was going on. It's funny. I didn't realize it with the first 2 planes. I guess I didn't really have time to process it all. But when I heard "third plane," I knew. I turned it off. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to watch. Badly. But I didn't know if I should. Should I be showing the kids those images? And I had a lesson to teach. It was a normal day, right? If I just turned off the TV, it would just go away. Maybe that was my hope. But it didn't go away. I couldn't get it off my mind. I tried to teach, but my mind was a million miles away or I guess a thousand or so.
The rest of that day is kind of a blur. I remember several things....calls I made to family, seeing people crying, a special chapel service, going home and being glued to the tv, going to my masters' class that I couldn't believe was still meeting, and participating in a special church service that evening. But for some reason, the few minutes when I first found out are so much more vivid. I will never forget that morning....the events, my thoughts, the looks on people's faces, words that were said. It all plays in slow motion now.
The first time I heard the Alan Jackson song "Where were you when the world stopped turning?" I got chills. One of the lines from that song is "teaching a class full of innocent children." That's where I was. Those kids were innocent and their world was forever changed that day....as was all of ours. God created a beautiful world, but it's far from perfect and far from innocent. It can be scary. It can be evil. It can be horrifying. It can be sad. I pray we never experience anything like 9/11 again, but I know that doesn't mean we will escape frightening times. God tells us through his Word that there will be suffering. But he also gives us a promise of a place with no suffering. Why anyone would jeopardize their chance to go to a place like that is beyond me. Heaven is for real. Hell is for real. This world can be rough sometimes but it's no hell. Hell will be worse. Those are facts. I want Heaven. I want it now. I'm willing to wait until God's ready for me but oh how I long for it.
9/11 was suffering. We will all have to endure suffering. But only for a short time if we truly give our lives to Him and prepare ourselves for Heaven. Please join me in preparing so we never have to experience a 9/11 again.
May God bless all the families directly affected that day. May He bless our service men and women. May He bless our leaders. May He bless our country. And may He bless you and me as we give our lives for Him.
I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.
Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)
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