What 9-11 Means to Me This Year: From a Relief Worker

This is very close to where I stood with 400 grieving family members a few days after 9-11.
This is very close to where I stood with 400 grieving family members a few days after 9-11.

9-11 means a lot of different things to people.  Everyone has a story of where they were on that day.  I just happen to be one of those people who spent 45 days smack dab in the middle of the pain, agony, and destruction of 9-11.  On 9-11 I was stationed at a large intel base.  We were considered a top 10 target and a mass evacuation of non-military personnel started right after the Pentagon was hit.  I don’t remember much because it was so chaotic and terrifying.  What I do remember is my friend was 8.5 months pregnant with her first child, and her then husband worked at the Pentagon.  The phones were jammed, so we waited until early evening before we knew that he was safe, having hiked up I-395 to get a ride back to our base.  I stayed with her all day to make sure that she was ok.  We huddled inside the Marine barracks, terrified of every jet engine we heard over head.  Our base was in the BWI flight path.   I remember a blazing sun against a crystal blue sky.  I remember people running frantically.  I remember armed Marines running with M-16s to secure our base.  I remember bracing for impact and being sure that death was coming.  I had never been that terrified in my entire life.  I don’t think anything else has matched it since (other than when the PTSD was rally bad 10 years ago).  Thank God!

Once the initial attacks cleared, my reaction was that I needed to help.  I lived a few miles from DC.  I needed to do what I could to help those in need.  Rather unexpectedly, a friend of mine, with a similar drive, said that she was being sent by our base to serve the families of those killed at the Pentagon.  I said that I was going with her, and so 8 of us from my base went to the Pentagon Family Assistance Center to serve the surviving families.  The Navy lost more people than any other branch or Agency, and they wanted us there in uniform in case the families wanted a Sailor to talk to and also to serve them in any capacity necessary.

The first few days were agony.  I witnessed the deepest in human suffering.  My 20 year old heart and mind, was not prepared for this level of pain.  My faith was still young and weak, and it was not my primary rock throughout that period.  I had to fight my own tears, in the face of hurting, mourning people.  A few days after the attack, I stood in front of the crash site with over 400 mourning relatives.  I knew that I was staring into the abyss of Hell.  Only Hell could bring such destruction and barbarity.

While 9-11 will haunt me for the rest of my life, I did witness the strength of the human spirit.  The first couple of weeks were devastating.  The wounds were deep and fresh.  Families waited helplessly for news of their loved ones.  No one survived the attack, and all 184 perished.  When bodies started to be returned to families (what was left of their loved one), families had a sense of relief.  Over 40 bodies were never recovered.  Once this phase began, I noticed a shift to healing.  The pain was deep, but there was the very beginning of hope and healing.  By the end of my 45 days as a relief worker, the families had returned home to begin to re-build their lives.

9-11 is a defining moment in my life, because, unlike the majority of the world, I was actually a part of the event.  I was there in all its horror.  This day has meant many things for me:   pain, agony, suffering, tears, mourning, nightmares, night terrors, flashbacks, hope, love, courage.  Today it means:  prayer.  These people who perpetuate this type of evil are still murdering thousands of people throughout the world.  The leaders of the West are impotent in the face of this evil, quite frankly, because in their nihilism they do not know good from evil, or evil from good.  So I wage the spiritual battle and I pray, fast, and give alms.  That is how I best serve the memories of those I met and their loved ones.  It is how I best served those being persecuted abroad.  It is how I best serve the persecutors.  So PRAY and pray hard, for the conversion of souls, for those murdered today (and every other day), the families, and the relief workers.

And, yes, because my 9-11 experiences make me feel a deep connection to the persecuted, check out Help Nasara to give alms.  We are trying to serve the suffering.  God bless you always.

We are on Facebook: www.facebook.com/helpnasara

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Why You Should Buy Our “Nun” Sticker

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It’s hard.  You are inundated with letters and emails asking for money.  There are starving children everywhere, unborn babies being murdered, children are sick, diseases are all over, and the list goes on and on.  I get it.  I receive address labels from various charities every year and I feel a pang of guilt every time I use one because I did not send money to that particular charity.  We can’t all give money to every group that asks us.  I completely understand.  Then it hit me. This matters because it impacts everyone, throughout the world.  If we cannot live freely in our beliefs then no one has freedom. 

My experiences may be drastically different from yours.  I feel the suffering of those fleeing from ISIS in Iraq and Syria acutely.  You see, I have seen in person the horrific nature and unspeakable acts that are going on there right now.  Thankfully, God is merciful and I have not yet seen someone beheaded, but I was a 9-11 relief worker at the Pentagon.  The first time I saw the crash site a dark wave washed over me and I felt like I was staring into the gates of Hell.  I wasn’t standing there alone.  I was there with over 400 people who had lost loved ones.  People whose entire lives were wrapped up with the 184 people who were slain when those men chose evil and drove that plane into the Pentagon.  I wept with the survivors.  I listened to their stories.  I witnessed their agony. 

Those same men who chose evil are of the exact same bent as the men who are massacring Christians and other minority groups in Northern Iraq and Syria.  They have stolen their homes, their freedom, sold women and children into slavery, and murdered thousands of people.  And the real secret is, that this will not just stay in Iraq.  It will not always be over there.  In fact, its already been here through the multiple terrorist attacks on our own soil.  This is not just an Iraq and Syria problem.  This is not just a Christian problem.  This impacts every single human being on this planet.

So why on earth should you spend $3.50 (FREE SHIPPING IN THE US) on our bumper sticker or magnet?  We have an obligation to stand up to evil.  No you and I cannot go over there and provide food, shelter, water, and other necessities.  However, we can give a small part of our money to groups who do exactly that.  The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) does precisely that.  But, I am not just asking you to give up your latte today.  I am also asking you to pray and fast in solidarity with the persecuted throughout the world.  We also show strength when we stand up in solidarity with others. My sticker on my car tells the world that I have taken notice of the atrocities taking place and my heart is with those people.  It also educates others on what is going on.  We will regularly update our website: www.helpnasara.org so that you can get the latest news on what is going on in Iraq and Syria.  Even if one person sitting behind you in traffic checks out our site, then somebody else knows about the persecution that is going on.  Let’s face it, our mainstream media is completely ignoring the slaughter of Christians.

I know it does not seem like much to buy a sticker and give a couple of bucks to CNEWA, but one person multiplies into two and three and so on.  This is a grassroots movement.  A bunch of Christian Facebook friends got together and built this website, logo, and Facebook page.  This is the power we have to help others.  We can unite and serve.  That is precisely what Christ calls us to do.  This is not a scam.  Your money will go to CNEWA. We are too small to cover printing costs, so that will come out of the $3.50 and $2.30 of every item WILL GO to CNEWA. Please buy one sticker or magnet.  Slap it on your car or your laptop and show the world that you stand with the suffering.  You can purchase a magnet or sticker at our Etsy page.  They cost the same.

Check out our homepage: www.helpnasara.org
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/helpnasara

You can get the word out, share our website, Facebook page, and Etsy store with your friends.

Thank you for your support and may God bless you always.

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If there are any issues with the store of any of our sites, please let me know immediately in the comments section.  Thanks!