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The World Affected
Pastor Joe Giacometti ©2002

As I've been thinking the last few days, I thought it important to post an article on the situation at hand. Not necessarily a teaching or preaching article, or an answer filled coping article, but if anything just a way for me to express the many thoughts that have been going through my head, and perhaps to help anyone reading it with their own thoughts. You will notice this being mainly a compilation of my observations and emotions of the last 48 hours.

Tuesday morning I was in to work a little after 9. All seemed to be moving towards a normal day. I was getting some things in order at the church; organizing some deliveries I had received the last day or two. I was on my way back in to my office, and the secretary opened up her door and said, "Two planes just crashed in to the Empire State Building." She had said that our most distinguished gentleman in the church had just called with the news. She was obviously flustered as she spoke. I was immediately thankful that my parents were out of the country.

"What? That's crazy," I thought. "How could that have happened? What kind of planes were they? The Empire State Building. Oh my Gosh," I continued in to my office. At first it didn't seem like much, but the thoughts began swamping my mind…
"My Dad used to work in the Empire State Building. My dad still knows people who do. Where my dad works now is really not all that far away from there. His office can't be in good shape. Oh my gosh, I have to go!"

I left my office and told the secretary I was going to my parent's house (much closer to church than mine) and I needed to try to get in touch with them. I obviously also wanted to watch the news and get updated on what exactly the situation was.

I arrived at my parent's house and immediately turned on the TV to see the twin towers engulfed in smoke. Though my heart ached for the tragedy of those in southern Manhattan, I was relieved to see that my dad would not be immediately affected by those he knew, or his colleagues still in the country and at work. Though all of Manhattan was affected, the WTC are quite a ways south of the area my Dad works in. Once I worked all that out, I came back to a somber state and one of disbelief as I continued to watch the buildings burn. I sat in awe as they began to reply footage of the second airliner strike the second tower. I couldn't believe that such symbols of NY that I was so familiar with and viewed so many times, even visiting the observation deck within the last several years, had been struck and crippled in such a way. In the midst of all of this, news broke that the pentagon had in some way been attacked, and this is when I began to feel we were clearly in trouble and being attacked by some entity of people who had taken great time in planning in all of this. We were all in for a major change in the life we have become so comfortable with.

Not that I was in disbelief enough, as reporters gabbed on about some aspect of these events, I watched before my very eyes, on live TV, one of the largest towers on the planet crumble to the ground. Not believing it took the reporters 30 seconds to even notice this and say something about it, I began to try to contact my parents, on business in Italy. I dialed the number they gave me for the office, and they directed me to their hotel. I called the hotel and they told me that those guests checked out earlier in the day.
"Ok, well I have no way to get in touch with my parents," I thought in a frustrated manner. I knew they were on their way to Venice, but they left no number for me to reach them in Venice. I attempted to call my fathers office in Manhattan, only to hear, "all circuits are busy, try your call again later." That was about the end of phone success. About 75% of all calls I tried to make within 35 miles of the city, or internationally didn't go through properly. I got either the beeping tone that means "clearly you've done something wrong," or a message that said all international circuits were busy. Something I had never quite experienced before.

As the list of new experiences grew, the second World Trade Tower lost its battle to fire and damage. As I watched, the enormous white tower on top lost altitude quickly yet almost majestically into the very structure that had supported it all these years, and at that point I could not believe I was alive and witnessing such an unimaginable event.

The World Trade Towers are no longer standing. They are no longer visible for miles around. The next time I see the city from a distance the Empire State Building will be the lone watchman of Manhattan. That in itself is something major for anyone to come to terms with. The replay of major jet airliners violently disappearing into the buildings, exiting them as a ball of flames and clouds of smoke is something that is quite overwhelming to see without our minds telling us, "what a stupid affect. Couldn't the special effects designers have made it any more realistic than that?" And indeed on this day, someone had.

Planes flying into buildings is nearly unfathomable. And yet, it is an image that is suddenly in our faces. It is something the world must now deal with. There is a younger generation in America, myself included, who have never dealt with national crisis before. Hardly any large-scale crisis before. My dad brought up an interesting point that I had never been through a crisis such as this before. All generations have dealt with something like this, and for mine, this is the first one. All alive before us have dealt with some combination of world wars and Pearl Harbor, the depression, Vietnam, and JFK or King Junior's assassination. All of these things HUGELY affected the nation and the world. Since many of our births, we have indeed been affected by things like the Challenger explosion, the Tianmen Square tragedy in China, the Gulf war and the Oklahoma City Bombing. None, however having been anywhere near the magnitude of what we have been victim of this week. Due to simply the fact that it has created situations that have never taken place before.

One example of this is the shut down of all airports in the entire country. This means that for a better part of 2-3 days, there was not one plane in the sky anywhere in the USA that wasn't official government or military related in the areas of the tragedy. This has never happened in the history of flight! I looked up at the sky numerous times Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday to see no exhaust trails of airliners. I sat out on my porch Tuesday night and gazed up at the stars, not to be interrupted by the flashing white and red lights of a plane flying overhead. This very occurrence fascinates me because it is something that has never before happened, and may never happen again. Any time something meets this criteria, it is something that is of huge affect, almost impossible to fully comprehend.

Though this seems somewhat of a trivial observation, it is history, and thus important. I was obviously affected emotionally quite a bit on several occasions. How could one sit and watch live the unraveling of life as they now it and not be overcome with emotion. Tears welled up in my eyes several times Tuesday morning while watching news coverage. As I drove around town the first time, I noticed a flag flying at half-mast already indicating great loss to our country. The site of this brought tears to my eyes. Reports on TV and in newspapers of foreign countries reaching out to us by expressing condolences and displaying grief have affected me emotionally. They have triggered tears as well. In the past days, I have heard on the radio many "uniting" songs rekindled by this episode. "We are the World," and "Proud to be an American," to name a few. Not that these brought tears, in fact almost an opposite affect, as they just brought back sensory memories of when they were on the radio originally, and obviously create some interesting emotions inside.

This is my story of the 24 hours that changed America, meager as it may be compared to the thousands who were directly affected by this catastrophe.

Most of us now sit and await news of how our country will react, or fear what could happen next. I'm also amazed that on at least the major networks, there has been no regular programming for some 50+ hours now. Half of me says, "how much news of this can I watch?" But the other half doesn't want to leave the TV set.

Some of you may or may not have felt some of the same ways I do. Some of you may feel worse. I understand there are situations that could affect your emotions either way. One being you were in school while all of this was taking place. I believe that seeing it all live could be more emotional than hearing about it all day and just seeing highlights afterwards. Perhaps you have no one near either city and are far away yourself, so you feel unaffected by it. These are honest, credible situations. However, I plead with you all to be aware of and try to understand this most significant event in our nations history, and feel for those who are affected by it. Take some time to realize our fortune of freedom, and the life style we are blessed with in this country. While realizing it, take time to appreciate every ounce of it, and understand how fragile and precious it really is. Also realize that in some way, ALL of our lives will change from this sad, sad week in history.