September 11, 2001. I remember exactly where I was and what I felt when I first heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. I imagine everyone who was alive that day remembers. It was one of those days that becomes seared into your memory, never to be forgotten.
The morning was still dark as I drove to Seminary with my little brother. I heard them say something on the radio about a plane crash in New York and that it possibly crashed into the World Trade Center, but at that point the news was so fresh nobody knew the tragic details. I went to Seminary, thinking little more of it. It was only after Seminary, as I drove with my friends to our high school next door, that I learned what really happened.
The radio station then played "God Bless the USA." Never had that song struck my soul the way it did that day. And it never has since. Fierce love and devotion for my country surged within me. I was proud to be an American.
Most of my classes that day were spent staring at a TV screen as images flashed across that would be forever burned in my mind. People, blackened by soot, running through the streets. An airplane, flying far too low. Engulfing flames and smoke. Then a tower, crashing to the ground amid a blinding fog of dust and rubble.
Between classes I would walk outside and look up at a calm, blue summer sky, finding it hard to believe that such tragedy and destruction existed beyond the horizon, when in my world it was just another day.
I was an invincible seventeen years-old on September 11, 2001. I had little experience with death or heartbreak. That day, my world was shaken. The future, always so secure, was suddenly uncertain and filled with fear, eggshell-fragile. Was the world ending? Would life as I knew it soon cease to exist? Would the terrorists win?
Thankfully, I was not left alone in my fear. In the days and months following September 11th, I had opportunities to listen to the words of the Lord's prophet on the earth at that time, Gordon B. Hinckley.
I remember distinctly when he said these words, "Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us."
Right at that moment, my heart was filled with indescribable peace. As a prophet of God, I knew Gordon B. Hinckley spoke for the Lord Himself. And I was no longer afraid.
President Hinckley went on to say, "Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us."
Ten years later, with a family of my own and a husband who works as a first responder, I think I understand the tragedy of September 11th even more deeply. And the world certainly isn't any more secure and certain than it was on the dark day. But I still know where to turn for peace, and the Lord continues to speak to us through his prophet, Thomas S. Monson.
In a dark and terrifying world, Jesus Christ has promised us "peace which passeth understanding."
I can testify that that peace is real.
To read more of President Hinckley's talk, go here.
We will never forget,
The Brown-Eyed Girl