Today marks the 11 year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On this somber day, The Salvation Army would like to extend our deepest regard for those our nation lost, their families and friends.
The following was contributed by Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander.
Commissioner Nancy and I visited New York City over the momentous 9/11 weekend, and, as you might imagine, our minds and hearts are filled with reflections and feelings to share with you.
It was a weekend of deep emotion, emotions too profound to reduce to mere words, but too obvious not to notice and consider. But as deep as these feelings may have been, they were not peculiar to me or any one person. They were owned and expressed in community, by the community. And while New York City, and particularly Ground Zero may have been the locus of that, in fact, the community could not be contained or defined by any artificial barriers. Instead, the whole country was present in that community. We were not alone.
As deeply as some may have hurt, and there are many who are still hurting, it was still a weekend of hopefulness. We were privileged to accompany the international leader of The Salvation Army, General Linda Bond, making here first visit to the United States since her election to that office earlier this year. She spoke at a commemorative gathering convened at the American Bible Society offices in mid-town Manhattan, where her message was just that – one of hope. I was reminded that we are a people of hope. Not hope in the sense that ‘I hope I will get over this’, or ‘I hope things will get better’, or I hope it will not rain tomorrow’. Rather it is hope grounded in the promises of an Eternal God, who has always done ‘immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3.20). God can be trusted, that is our conviction, even in the darkest of times.
Some may ask where was God then? where is God now? And the response of the faithful is the same now as it was then: God is with us, sharing our grief and pain, helping us, being patient with us, as we go about our foolish ways, letting us do what we think is best, still waiting for us to turn to him, whose plan is perfect, whose love is constant, though his ways may be inscrutable.
The weekend also witnessed the entry of 39 young and younger persons to the New York City School for Officer Training coming from all over the eastern U.S., responding to the Divine call to train to become Salvation Army officers, and spend their lives in service to God and a needy world. It surely is not coincidental that the name of this particular class is ‘Proclaimers of the Resurrection.’ With the thought of death heavy on our minds, we were reminded that the possibility of resurrection still exists, because of the Resurrection of the One, even Jesus, the Son of God, who demonstrated that death need not be nor have the final word. Physical death, spiritual death, emotional death – we need not fear, because God is in control. Martin Luther says it better: ‘Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is for ever.’
And, oh, at the conclusion of the American Bible Service service, white doves were released , as a sign of the continuing hope which is ours. A reminder that our best hopes are all found in God, and that our best efforts (perhaps our worst efforts) cannot thwart God’s care and concern for us all.
Today we reflect with heavy hearts. If you’re like me, you remember where you were standing when you heard the news and what you were wearing. I recall thinking the first plane hitting was merely an accident, a failed engine or other technical problem. When the second plane hit it was declared an act of terrorism, I remember feeling sick with worry, angry about the evil in this world, and overwhelming sadness for the pain and suffering of the victims involved.
This past week The Salvation Army has been using the slogan Remember & Honor. While we remember the events of that day and pray for those still grieving, we honor the servants. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers stepped up to help on the day of the disaster. Emergency response crews from surrounding states rushed to Ground Zero to help. The Salvation Army had 39,000 volunteers help throughout the nine months we were stationed! Surely, we are a nation that knows how to unite for a greater good during times of disaster.
We remember our faith- in both God’s promises and man’s abilities. This spirit of unity, love and compassion is a manifestation of Christ’s presence during times of affliction. We are united through our experiences and through our faith in Christ’s promises. Though we question why these things happen, we give praise that his teachings of brotherly love endure through the sacrifice of others.
We honor the survivors; the victims, policemen, firemen, emergency response crews and volunteers. Though we mourn this day, we know that our nation continues forward stronger, with confidence that our enduring spirit can be tested but it will always empower us. Remembering our faith we thank God for the gifts of unity, compassion, love and strength.
“I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18.1-2)
It’s often difficult to accurately describe historical events to children without going too far. Parents fear the story’s details might be too severe for the ears of young children. As horrific as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were, it’s important to recall the silver lining: the servant heart of thousands.
9.11 Helping the Heroes: A Salvation Army Story is the perfect tool for conveying the events of 9/11 to your children and grandchildren. Written by acclaimed children’s writer Linda Carlson Johnson, the book focuses on the volunteer efforts at Ground Zero with emphasis on the unity, love and service that was demonstrated following the horrific events of that day.
Along with over 1,000 volunteers from New York City alone, thousands of volunteers and emergency disaster relief workers nationwide traveled to the disaster site to help.
Such an amazing part of the story!
The Salvation Army was a large contributor to the relief efforts at Ground Zero; providing food, drinks, clothing, blankets, masks, socks, hardhats, gloves, shelter and counseling for the many workers and volunteers.
The illustrations will keep kids captivated. Pick up your copy today!
The footage in this video gives some deeper insight into The Salvation Army’s role in the months following the September 11 attacks.
Our relief effort called “Compassion Under Fire,” allowed us to control the feeding operation at Ground Zero. The large tent that we set up next to Ground Zero was dubbed the “Taj Majal”. It is here that we were able to serve rescue and response workers looking for food and rest.
Our efforts were supported by several New York City restaurants as part of the Restaurant Revitalization Program. The program allowed for The Salvation Army to choose other restaurants from which to purchase food to serve at the tent.
Additionally, The Salvation Army provided protective gloves, masks, and socks. More importantly, Salvation Army pastoral caregivers were able to pray with and counsel rescue and recovery workers toiling under emotionally and physically draining circumstances.
“In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.” Psalm 62.7
Have you checked out the newest edition of War Cry, a publication of The Salvation Army?
The powerful September edition is titled What We Learned From 9/11 and includes stories and testimonies from Salvation Army Officers who served on the front lines of need on September 11 and the months following.
Not to be missed:
The Story is of Glory, contributed by Craig H. Evans, Development Director for The Salvation Army of Portland, ME. Craig witnessed the terrorist attacks on September 11 from The Salvation Army’s divisional headquarters in Manhattan. His powerful account of that day is extremely moving. He attributes his team’s coordinated response amid many obstacles to God-given grace and strength.
There is Calvary, an account from Major Molly Shotzberger, Salvation Army Team Leader who worked at Ground Zero. Major Shotzberger writes about the worker who discovered three perfect crosses underneath the rubble of the World Trade Center- and called the site Calvary.
Presence – Read how Lt. Colonel Stephen Banfield, Salvation Army Incident Commander at Ground Zero, came to understand that sometimes the only thing a victim needs is another’s presence. Lt. Colonel Banfield did just that, standing with and comforting victims who were waiting for their loved ones to be discovered from the wreckage.
And much more!
Click Here to read the online articles. To order your subscription to War Cry, visit our website.
Check out this short video containing footage from the 9/11 attacks, showcasing the “people in blue” near the end.
Did you know…
The Salvation Army was the first relief agency to arrive at the scene of the 9/11 attacks, reporting within a half-hour of the first plane hitting?
Officials granted us full control of the feeding operation at Ground Zero – a relief effort called Compassion Under Fire – for nine months following the attacks?
We served 3.2 million meals to victims, volunteers, firemen, policemen, and emergency disaster relief workers?
Salvation Army pastoral caregivers provided emotional and spiritual support to rescue and recovery workers?
We couldn’t have done any of this without the thousands of loving volunteers and generous donors that served our efforts.
Thank you for your support.
It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the ten-year mark already. The attacks from September 11, 2001 are still very fresh for many. On that fateful morning, most of the nation watched the news stations anxiously from living rooms, schools and offices as the scenes unfolded. We painfully listened to the horrific depictions of death and destruction from witnesses nearby. For months following, we tracked the progress on ground zero. A decade later, we are still picking up the pieces and rebuilding, yet the pain and loss from losing friends, family, firefighters, policemen, and emergency relief workers is still present.
For months after and still, our nation mourns.
The time following those events was especially significant for The Salvation Army. That’s why throughout this entire week we will be remembering those we lost and honoring those who survived and helped.
The Salvation Army was the first relief agency to reach Ground Zero on that fateful day, reporting within a half-hour following the first plane crash at the World Trade Center site. We couldn’t have done without the 39,000 Salvation Army officers, volunteers, and staff who provided assistance during that time. We served relief workers at the scene for nine months until operations at Ground Zero officially concluded in May, 2002. This relief effort, called “Operation Compassion Under Fire” gave The Salvation Army full control of the feeding operation at Ground Zero. We served 3.2 million meals during those months. Most importantly, we were able to provide emotional and spiritual counseling and support to rescue and recovery-personnel.
In remembrance of this tragedy and in recognition of the 10th anniversary, The Salvation Army will host a variety of events and memorial services around the country to remember and honor the victims and heroes of the attacks and their loved ones. Events include memorial services, remembrance ceremonies, candlelight vigils, parades and food drives.
For more information, please check back here for updates.