Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Never Forget

(This was my comment over at Six LDS Writers and a Frog in reply to Rob Wells question about how 9/11 changed people's lives.)

In the days following 9/11, I found myself reassuring my children (who were still in grade school) that Ashton is so small no terrorists would ever find it and they were safe. And I found myself thinking of all the ways terrorists could cause havoc in small towns if they really wanted to.

One of my nephews had moved his family to Florida where he was to attend school to become a commercial pilot. His school was the one that trained the terrorists. The school declared bankruptcy and he lost the $50,000 tuition he had paid. (Yes, they really charged that much.)

Then another nephew, Jacob, joined the Army. He scored high enough on his entrance tests that they offered to train him as a war correspondent. But he wanted to stay with the infantry. He was a gunner. On April 22, 2006, he was in a convoy on a road outside Bagdad when his Humvee hit an IED. He and several others were killed.

At his funeral there was a brigadier general, the interim govenor of Idaho, and a member of the Seventy. The stake center was crammed to capacity with all kinds of military personnel and local police and firefighters. (My brother-in-law was the city fire chief.) Many of them had probably never stepped inside an LDS church building. That day they were taught the plan of salvation, disguised as a funeral sermon, by a general authority, in a beautifully simple way.

When it was over and we all left the chapel, my brother-in-law was interviewed by television crews, and he was able to talk about how his religion gave his family strength during that difficult time. A man in a much-decorated uniform stopped my sister to ask who that man was that spoke (the member of the Seventy), because he had never heard anything like that before. A friend of my sister's had always refused invitations to hear more about the gospel, but after the funeral she wanted to speak to the missionaries. I'm sure there were a lot of other seeds planted, but we may never know how many.

A few weeks later, another soldier who had been a good friend of Jacob and was riding in the vehicle behind him when he was killed came to visit Jacob's family. He was distraught about Jacob's death. My sister and brother-in-law were able to share their testimonies with him and reassure him that they knew they would see Jacob again one day. They were able to tell him a lot about the gospel. He later wrote to thank them for helping him find God.

And that is how 9/11/2001 has affected me and my family.

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