A shift is needed…

Ten years ago, on Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001, I remember exactly where I was.

I was sixteen-years-old and lived on Long Island at the time.  I was the sound guy at my church, and my mother and I were off to a wedding; I needed to run the soundboard for it.  I was home schooled, so I was just going to do my work later in the day.  We had to stop at the library to look for a book before going to the wedding.  As I was perusing the books, I kept hearing people talking in the background about a plane crashing into the Twin Towers.

I couldn’t believe it, so I headed to the lounge where they had a TV to see what people were talking about.  Sure enough, the World Trade Center North Tower was on fire.  As I stood there I thought to myself, “This must be an accident, there’s no way that someone would purposely fly into the largest buildings in New York City.”  But to my horror, as I stood there watching the live report, the other plane crashed into the South Tower.  That’s when it struck me, “This is an attack, New York is being attacked!”

I have found the actual broadcast of what I watched that day.  Warning: this video contains the second crash, and may be disturbing to some people!

Even though it was only on TV, witnessing the South Tower being attacked has never left my mind.  I can see it as clearly as I did on that day (and searching the internet for the ABC broadcast that I watched in the library hasn’t helped).  Thousands of people lost their lives on 9/11; not just in New York, but at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania as well.  It took me eight years before I could see Ground Zero, and as I looked upon the site where so many people died, I couldn’t help but cry.

Less than a year after the events of 9/11, in the summer of 2002, I was on a mission trip to South Africa.  While there, my team and I got the opportunity to teach in schools.  Each day, after the lessons, we would sit around and talk with the students.  I was showing a group of boys what American money looked like.  They asked me where in America I was from, so I told them I was from New York.  This spawned a ton of questions about my home.  One boy, after examining a dollar bill, looked up at me and asked one of the most unexpected and hardest questions I’ve ever been asked, “Do you hate Osama bin Laden for attacking you?”


I didn’t know what to say!  How do you respond to a question like that?  I didn’t answer right away…I couldn’t.  I was thinking to myself, “Do I?”  I spent a few moments in silence, where I contemplated the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

I remembered going into New York City with my mother one time when I was a little boy, and she needed to visit the Twin Towers.  I had never been in the tallest building in New York before, so it was exciting.  After she conducted her busniess, we went to the observation deck, and I got to see the whole city.  It was an amazing experiance; I was literally on top of the world, and they were my towers to stand on!  So the Twin Towers have always held a special place in my heart.  But now they are gone, fallen by hijacked planes, killing 2,606 people in the process.  One of them was a firefighter named Michael Kiefer, who was a friend of our family.

Thinking all of this in a matter of moments, I responded to the young African boy who asked the question.  I said, “No.  I don’t hate him.  I don’t like what he did, but I don’t hate him personally.” 

I didn’t say it because it was “the right thing to say”, I said it because it was true.  I did not hate bin Laden or Al Quida for attacking America.

Dislike, and upset?


A desire to see justice served? 


But hate, and unforgiveness?


We all deserved the cross, we all deserve forgiveness.  Everyone deserves forgiveness, even the people who attacked my people, my country, my state, my City, and my towers.

We all deserved the cross. We all deserve forgiveness.

The boy just looked at me, shocked by my answer.  And to be frank, I was shocked too.

I will never forget September 11th, 2001, nor will I ever forget that question asked by an African boy.

Now it’s your turn, readers.  Where were you when 9/11 happened?  What would your response be if that boy asked you the same question?  Answer honestly.


Comments on: "Ten Years Since That Tuesday Morning" (19)

  1. Ian Boverhof said:

    My story is less dignified. I was in the bathroom. I head my mom scream. I finished up and ran out into the living room. When I saw the news I really did not understand the significance. They were just two big towers to me. I was worried that it was some kind of pearl harbor type thing though ( I was only 11). After it was all over I just wanted to get out of home schooling for the day. Now years later of feel somewhat stupid for my selfishness. I never had a connection to the city like you but the loss of so many people is hard to take in even now. Sorry for this somewhat rabbing post. I wrote somewhat stream of consciousness.

    • No way dude, that’s a great story. I’m so used to hearing how much 9/11 changed their lives. But hearing the story of someone who was too young to even care is just different. Thanks for sharing, Bove!

  2. This was a great post, Andrew. Real food for thought.

    I,, of course, was with you in the Library. I remembering you running over to me and telling me. I thought, “No. It’s a movie. They must have a movie playing on the TV.” You ran back to the lounge and I realized a lot of people were running. I followed to the lounge, just in time to see the second plane. I remember still thinking, “This is a movie.” I stood frozen at the sudden realization of the horrific fact that NYC was under attack. Had we made it through that wedding that day was purely God’s grace.

    And I, like you, forgave. I had to, to be true to God. But, it wasn’t easy. Knowing Michael Vernon and so many others died needlessly…it certainly wasn’t easy.

    May God give grace to those struggling with forgiving.

    • I remember that, Mom. Remember how as soon as we got home from the wedding all we did was sit in the TV room glued to the images on the screen. We were all in shock.

      Thanks for sharing. :-)

  3. I lived in Washington DC. From the window in my house I could see the pentagon and while watching the horror that was taking place in NY I watched as the plane flew into the building where as a kid my mother worked.

    I remember walking out of my house the next morning and seeing the military on every corner standing around with M-16’s and think I used to live in the land of the free.

    It took a long time for me to get over the events of that day as I lost an uncle who was on the anti-terrorism team and had been called into the pentagon to work, and while I will never forget what happened I am glad that as a nation we are moving on.

  4. I was in high school, second period, the teacher came in late & told us what happened.
    Honestly? I’m not sure what I’d tell a kid. I’d like to think my answer would be similar to yours.

    • I know a lot of people who were in school when it happened. How many students completely forgot about the day’s work because of the events of the day?

      Thank you for sharing.

  5. thanks for sharing, Ronzi. thats neat!
    not what happened but your little blerb of your memory

  6. This is a great recount of your September 11 experience, Andrew. I loved your answer to the South African boy’s question. Hate the act, not the perpetrator. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Chrissy, thank you for calling Andrew “Andrew”. Most people who know him in Michigan call him “Ronzi”. It touched my heart to read his real name. I’m going to go to your blog right now.

  8. It was great to read everyone’s memories of the event. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  9. I was at the doctors office. I remember walking back out into the waiting room as the second tower was hit. I stood there for the longest time, watching in shock. Back at work, we all gathered around a tiny little TV and watched (and cried) all day long.
    I’m sitting here thinking about the question you were asked, and I’m honestly not sure how I would have responded. My initial reaction is to say no, I don’t hate him. Watching the memorials today I felt so much sadness & even anger, but no hate.

    • It’s amazing to hear everyone’s different stories. My family and I were glued to the TV all day as well.

      Thank you for your honesty with the question. Yesterday I felt sad and angry, just as I did ten years ago. But I too harbored no hatred. It’s not for me to hate. People are deceived and, I can’t expect people of the world to act like Christians.

      Thank you for sharing, Allison.

  10. I’m an Australian, so my take is a little different. I was in bed. I was woken by a phonecall from my husband who was at a friends place, drinking. They had been watching a DVD and it had just finished. They saw the second tower get hit and thought “oh! Cool movie! We’ll watch this.” Took them ten minutes to figure out it was real. Anyways, Adam called me and said “turn on the tv.” I asked “what channel?” He said “doesn’t matter.”

    I sat and watched for about an hour, maybe? I remember thinking, in amongst the horror of it all, watching people jump out of the buildings etc etc, that this changes everything, and gee someone had balls to attack the US. I called my mother, who was in a 3 week trip with my sister’s year 10 class, so they could tell them. I went back to bed just before they fell, it turned out. I spent the entire next day glued to the tv, crying for the senseless loss. Everyone here was just in shock it had happened. And gosh, how we prayed for you all.

    • Wow, it’s very cool to see someone from the other side of the world’s perspective on the 9/11 attack. Being an American, I have only an American view of it. My country was attacked. Where at the rest of the world saw it as American got attacked. I do find it funny that your husband thought that it was a movie for a while before it sunk in. Because, let’s face it. It LOOKED like one. A plane crashed into the tower just like some movie with a very good special effect. I know it took a lot of people some time before the truth set in and they realized that it was no joke, it was really happening. They couldn’t deny it any longer.

      Thank you for the prayers ten years ago, we needed it then.

      Thanks for sharing your story here, Jen It means a lot to me.

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