(EDITOR’S NOTE – Twelve years ago … our nation experienced one of the most terrifying episodes in its history. No one will ever forget where they were when planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, toppling the Twin Towers. Tennessee native David R. Dean served as executive director of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association at the time. Dean is now retired and living in Orlinda, Tenn. His reflections were first published by the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.)
ORLINDA, Tenn. – I was on my commuter bus into New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, when I noticed a strange cloud behind the World Trade Center.
My seat partner exclaimed, “There is smoke coming out of the windows!” Then we learned the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I made it into the city and rode the subway 30 blocks to my office, located at 72nd and Broadway. I will never forget that day and the ensuing trauma of the events of 9/11.
Many people came to minister: chaplains, disaster relief teams and hundreds of volunteers. I did not realize it but I became a victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as did many people in our nation.
I never dreamed that I would be an eyewitness to one of the most terrible disasters in our nation’s history. I saw it with my own eyes. I spent four hours at Ground Zero four days later and witnessed the search for the bodies, smelled the stench of burning remains, and was overwhelmed by the intensity of it all.
Our nation changed that dreadful day in September. I changed. I still flinch when I see and hear low-flying aircraft over skyscrapers. I still grieve when I see an old movie with the World Trade Center’s towers in place.
Now that time has passed, much of the sadness is history. What seemed like a TV program has re-runs in my mind as I recall the compassion shown by Baptists around the country.
Please keep praying for our churches in New York City. Many of them bear the emotional scars of 9/11. But new congregations came into existence soon after and continue to flourish. Thank you for your prayers and continued support of missions efforts in this great city.