Five years ago, I stood at Ground Zero in New York City. While attending the Memorial Museum, the magnitude of the calamity enveloped me. There are walls of postcards with thousands of written accounts from people all over the world. My personal story seems trite compared to others. Nonetheless, I believe that each individual’s experience on Sept. 11, 2001, serves as an eye-witness against the evil targeted at America.
My morning began as usual, watching the news while getting ready for work. The breaking bulletin of airplanes crashing into New York City’s Twin Towers was mind-boggling. I had to force myself to get ready for teaching preschool. I remember looking deeply into the mirror while applying my makeup. The black eyeliner upon my eyes suddenly seemed symbolic of the darkness our nation was facing.
Our teaching staff at preschool gathered for a special morning prayer. We discussed contingency plans in case of an emergency evacuation. We tried to make the day as calm and ordinary as possible, but I kept wondering if more cities were being attacked. “What a scary world we are living in,” I feared.
There was an eerie silence when we took the children outdoors for playtime. Traffic had halted and the sound of planes and jets overhead was missing. The stillness was weird, considering how often aircraft fly by because of the U.S. Air Force Academy in nearby Colorado Springs.
I felt relieved when school ended, so I could hurry home and gather my teenagers around me. They had watched the tragedy unfold on TV at school. We spent the evening glued to the news, discussing the nightmare. Amongst the horror inflicted on Americans on 9/11, we also witnessed the brave New York City fire fighters and police officers performing miraculous feats of courage.
I find it significant that history calls this disastrous event “9/11.” At preschool, children are taught to practice calling 911 on telephones for emergencies. Today, this special number reflects a historical date and national emergency that Americans will always remember. My personal experience of 9/11 now stands alongside millions of others who witnessed the most corruptible crime of our 21st century.
In the Book of Mormon, Alma and Amulek were witnesses to the believers being destroyed by fire. Likewise, every individual eye-witness of 9/11 records how “the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them (the murderers), yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day” (Alma 14:11). Furthermore, Alma concludes that God is the ultimate eye-witness stating: “But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day” (Alma 39:8).
Sheran K. Milius is in the Bowles Grove Ward, Littleton Colorado Stake. Her email is Sheran.firstname.lastname@example.org.