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9/11: The day my world changed

As published in the Hillsdale Daily News on Sept. 11, 2009

Sept. 11, 2001 was the day evil became real to my heart and the day I came to better understand my own worldly mortality.

I remember sitting in my 11th-grade government class that day wondering how an empire such as ours could be so vulnerable to such a sickening reality, one that kept playing over and over on the television screen.

Until that day, history lessons on Pearl Harbor and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and test questions about Nazis and gas chambers were completely black and white to me, simply text and pictures that failed to evoke much of a response.

On that day, and in the weeks that followed, I started to understand the history of our country and of the world in a much more vivid, tempestuous way.

More importantly for my own well being though I learned to find hope in the words of my Bible, because I realized no human understanding of the tragic events would be enough to satisfy the longing my soul had for immediate answers.

Only God could understand the motives of religious extremists who plotted against innocent people and only His promise that things will one day be different in a New Jerusalem, in a wonderful heaven, made any sense to me.

I genuinely believe there is a reason church attendance skyrocketed in the two years following the attack on the World Trade Center — and the logic behind the increase is the realization that we all hope there is something better than the agony and indignation this world throws at us sometimes.

Bodies scattered in the midst of ashes and two mammoth structures crumbling to the  ground seemed to tear off our invincibility cloaks and it allowed our nation to see its own distorted worldview.

The unforgettable images of the devastating blitz on U.S. soil and the prayers I was a part of changed some of my focus.

Sure I still played video games, yeah I still whined about doing chores and other petty nuances (and I still do both) but the suffering of many caused me to think about how I could help my fellow brother and sister on a daily basis; through my time, through a listening ear and through my service.

There are defining moments that shake, make or break the human character and spirit.

It’s during those times we must decide whether to be strong or weak, to be a help or a hindrance, to be a victim or a survivor.

9/11 changed the course of U.S. history, it left hundreds of thousands of people mourning and it left me searching for hope.

I found it, but I also found out the real world will never totally satisfy my soul.


About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.


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