Saturday, September 10, 2011


I'm going to be on an airplane on the tenth anniversary of 9/11,  with Tom, our grandson Tommy, and Amanda's family as we fly home from vacation. My first thought as we booked these tickets was that this would likely be the safest day of the year to fly. Surely vigilance would be ramped up because of the significance of the date, and then we heard the recent reports of an unconfirmed but credible warning of an impending attack on a bridge or tunnel in New York or DC. we're flying into Baltimore. I have to admit we're a little less comfortable, but still confident that all will be well.

Like all Americans my thoughts are on that day ten years ago. I was offered an opportunity to share my opinion on how September 11th changed me spiritually. Here are my thoughts. This article appeared in the Deseret News on September 8th, section c, page nine, and in the Mormon Times, I believe. Once I gave thought to this question, I realized 9/11 was the catalyst to my increased love of America, my increased interest in the chapters of scripture that discuss the special role this nation was designed to play in human events, and it was the springboard to my desire to visit America's hallmarks--Philly, Williamsburg, Fort McHenry--where the ideas for my books were born.

That day changed us all a bit. Here's my story:

I remember the impressions of that day so well, but the memories are jumbled up in emotion rather than logic. I had left my position with the school system. That fall was the beginning of a less-complicated, more peaceful writer's life. Or so I thought, until I turned on the news and saw the loop of the attack on the towers.

We live in the hot zone between DC, the biological-weapon storehouse at Fort Detrick, and the Underground Pentagon to the north. My mind immediately ran an inventory of our family members. The phone lines were jamming and hearing each voice was mission one. From family, our thoughts turned to friends.

I couldn’t tear myself from the news as the great symbols of America’s financial, military, and political strength fell victim to the attacks. Never before had I felt so vulnerable. Never before had I felt so angry.

The president I most wanted to hear was President Hinckley’s warm reassurance. I slipped to my knees and prayed a disjointed, jumbled plea for protection to Heavenly Father—for my family, for my country, for the leaders who would have to sort this all out. I was grateful for the counsel to prepare, grateful for a living prophet, grateful for the organization of the Church in the event we would need to protect and care for one another and our neighbors. And in the event of catastrophe, I was grateful for my Savior and the Plan of Salvation that would make everything all right.

The next day, fear and fright turned to defiant patriotism. The lines at the fabric store swelled as I waited in lines with others hungry for some scrap of ribbon to show our unity. Every face became a friend. Every hand seemed outstretched.

The Book of Mormon scriptures about America as the land of promise, and the warnings in Ether 9 against the danger of secret combinations bent on overthrowing liberty and freedom, became personal. I became enamored with history, seeing connections between American history and the scriptures, and in the lives of the Smith family, recognizing God’s hand in the formation and preservation of America as she was being prepared to become the cradle of the Restoration.

I realized that mothers or father, soldier or civilian, we are each the guardians of liberty, for liberty requires faith, and faith requires liberty to flourish.

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