“Hey, the lady at the counter just said that a plane hit the World Trade Center,” my good friend Jason Cowan mentioned, as he pulled out his chair and sat back down at our table at McDonalds.

It was a Tuesday and the local youth ministers staffed the First Priority Clubs at North and South Middle Schools. We met after our meetings for breakfast.

“That’s weird,” I replied, shrugging.

“You ever been there?” He asked.

“Nope. I’ve never been to New York.”

Honestly? In my head at that moment, I couldn’t even picture what the World Trade Centers looked like or even what it meant that a plane flew into them.

Breakfast continued as usual, with jokes and the morning’s newspaper passed around the table.

In my car 30 minutes later, I realized it was more than a plane flying into a building. It was a big deal.

At the church, our secretary, custodian and minister had wheeled a television into the office (back in the day when a regular antennae still brought a signal). All day, we sat around the television, watched in horror as the towers fell, as the plane hit the Pentegon and a plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. We realized with the news media that this was more than an accident and that we were under attack. We answered phone calls from distraught parishoners, heard stories about first responders losing their lives, watched as people mourned for their missing loved ones.

That night, I went with Jason to his church for prayer.

The next night, Jason came to our church for prayer.

After sleepless nights, we had to turn the television off. It haunted me–the images of the planes; the image published in the local newspaper of the man jumping to his death (that one seemed unnecessary to print–to think that someone captured the very last second of this man’s life on film and printed it disturbed me for…ever, really); the countless missing posters and pleas from family members left behind.

I hugged my not yet fiance Jason and my not yet stepson Jonas tighter and closer and more often.

I went to the County High football game and lit candles in the stands with my friends, students, neighbors.

I sat with my youth group as we discussed how a good God could let things like this happen. I had no real answers, but talking about it and praying about it with them was important.

Later, I watched in horror as our nation took steps of retaliation against Afghanistan…against Iraq.

I hate war.

Today is a day when the nation remembers a day that forever changed us all. Everything is different since that day.

I don’t really know what else to say about it that hasn’t been said or doesn’t feel cheesy or like I’m just saying what I feel like I should say today.

So I guess I’ll just say that I’ll never forget how I felt that day, that week. I hope for one day when violence and terrorism are no more.

May God’s peace fill your hearts and your minds today and always.