The aroma of baked potatoes and cabbage cooking in my crock pots are filling up my house. The sounds of the television are on in the background. It is a beautiful Fall like day here in North Dakota..about 70 degrees. And as I sit here taking in this gorgeous Fall like day, wrapped up in my favorite quilt, I can’t help but think back to this day; fourteen years ago. The day that cowards flew planes into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. It is a day that forever changed history! And since that day, our lives have never been the same!
It was a Tuesday morning. I had just graduated college that previous May and was living at home as I tried to determine where God was calling me next. I was full of so much hope. Yet little did I know that the events of this day would be a megaphone for where God was leading me next. I was curled up on the couch watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie when our Dad walked into the house. He asked if I had on the news and I said no. He told me to turn on the news, so I grabbed the remote and changed the channel. The images on the screen were gutwretchingly painful. I could feel the pit in my stomach and saw the looks of disbelief on my Dad’s face. I desperately wanted to turn the channel back to Laura Ingalls, but I couldn’t. Neither of us could. We were paralyzed by the events unfolding in front of us.
And while those events were unfolding on our televisions, new lives were being born into this world; into a world that had been changed in just a few moments. I think of my friend Emily who was in labor with her daughter Liz on this day. As Liz celebrates her 14th birthday, her mom can’t help but remember what was going on outside her hospital room and the hospital walls that day. I have a feeling Emily and a lot of moms held their children closer and didn’t want to let them go.
For the weeks after, it seemed the world was a better place. We were kinder to each other. We were more respectful of each other. We held our loved ones even closer. We even clung tighter to our faith. Yet today, it sometimes feels like we have forgotten the days following 9-11. We aren’t always so nice to each other. We take life for granted. And my friends, I don’t want that for us. I want us to remember…remember those lives that were lost that day…remember the light found in Jesus Christ who is our one constant.
Not a month after 9-11, I found myself touring Wartburg Seminary with my friend Pauline. From the moment, I stepped on that campus I felt God calling me into ministry. I wasn’t sure what that ministry would look like, but I heard God loud and clearly that day. God was calling me to be a woman who would pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of all God’s people. God was calling me to show Jesus’ example of servanthood to the world.
Not only did my life change, but all of our lives changed on that horrific September day. In the words of my friend Katie M. Reid on her Periscope today, we write to remember! Indeed we do…we write to remember! And so tonight, I write to remember all of those who lost loved ones at the World Trade Centers, or at the Pentagon or on Flight 93. #Wewillneverforget!!
(This link will take you to a poem I wrote four years ago for the 10th anniversary of 9-11. I hope you enjoy it. It is one of my favorite pieces I have ever written! Ten Years Later by Tara L. Ulrich)
Tomorrow marks the Tenth Anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. We all remember where we were and what we were doing on that morning just like my parent’s generation knew where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated.
I was at my dad’s house that morning. I had recently finished my internship in Beach ND with the Golden Valley News and the Billings County Pioneer. And after my internship, I had spent some time working/volunteering at my favorite place Camp of the Cross Ministries. And now the morning of September 11Th, I was watching “Little House on the Prairie” when it was interrupted with the news of the morning. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on our television set. Two planes fly straight into the World Trade Centers! Another plane crashing into the Pentagon. And then the heroes of Flight 93 who took control of their plane and flew it into a field in Shanks ville PA. If it weren’t for their heroic acts, who knows where that plane would have landed/crashed? For that day and the days following, we couldn’t help but grieve with the thousands who lost family members. Would today be the darkest day that I would know or would I see more darkness?
That next fall, I found myself starting seminary. I’m not sure that the events of September 11th called me into the ministry of word and service. But I have a feeling that in its own way, it did! At seminary, I remember many of my new friends telling me where they were that morning. Many of them were in class and then at 9:30 am CST they gathered for chapel. As the events of 9-11 unfolded, they stood in the Refectory with their eyes glued to the television sets. I remember my friend A telling us that the President of the seminary came in, turned off the televisions, and said, “Lets go to chapel. Chapel is the place we need to be right now!” So very true! And so they all gathered that morning,praying for the events unfolding in our world!
Now ten years later, man and woman are still in Afghanistan and other countries continuing to fight for our freedom. Ten years later, Bin Laden is dead! The day of his death I had a hard time grasping the joy so many were experiencing. I understood their joy but couldn’t bring myself to feel that same joy. Ten years later, the children of those killed on 9-11 are showing us what it means to share God’s grace with so many others!(Did any of you hear any of them speak on the Dateline special last night or read their interviews in the recent issue of People magazine?) Ten years later, we still remember; we still remember that horrific day. Ten years later, we are grateful for the many EMS workers, firefighters, and so many others who went into those buildings to bring survivors to safety. Ten years later, I find myself promising not to forget that dark day but also promising to share God’s grace and forgiveness when it is so hard to forgive!