10 years ago, I was a freshman at BYU-Idaho. I had officially been “on my own” for almost two weeks. I awoke, as usual, just before 7 am in order to make it in time to my 8am public speaking class. I was dressed up, as it was a Tuesday and I anticipated attended the opening devotional by President Bednar. I turned on the radio for a little music as I started my morning routine and was surprised to hear the somber voices replacing my normally upbeat station. Talks of the World Trade Center crowded the station. There were no concrete facts, just speculation as to what had happened.
I turned on the TV around 7:15 to find that every station was reporting the same event. At first it was just anchormen talking, but soon after, there were pictures, there were videos. Horrifying videos. There was confusion and chaos. I didn’t stay long to watch it all play out, I headed out the door to a day full of classes.
The pictures and videos kept haunting me. Every television on campus was on and reporting the tragedy. The same pictures and videos all day long. Every professor addressed what was taking place at the beginning of class and then proceeded with the lesson for the day. There was relatively no new news. Yet I found myself captivated with the coverage of all that was taking place. Hour after hour I kept tabs on the event. I had a break after my three morning classes and I sat in front of a large TV on campus surrounded by a few friends and classmates.
I then attended President Bednar’s devotional. I’m not sure what I expected of the devotional, but I remember looking for just an ounce of peace and comfort. He no doubt provided it. He opened with just a few remarks regarding the days events.
In this hour of sorrow, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses profound sympathy to those whose loved ones, friends, and associates were lost or injured in today’s senseless acts of violence. We offer our prayers in behalf of the innocent victims of these vicious attacks. We ask our Heavenly Father to guide President Bush and his advisors as they respond to these devastating incidents.
We have received a number of phone calls today in the President’s Office: “Are classes cancelled?” The answer is no. “Will devotional continue as planned?” The answer is yes. On this, of all days, we as disciples of the Savior have the opportunity to gather together and stand in holy places. So it was our determination to move forward with classes and with the devotional. Today we are adjusting the format. We will do some things at the end of our meeting that will be a little bit different, i.e., we are going to sing two hymns as we conclude today’s devotional. So it is likely the case that we will take a few minutes longer than is normal. Do not be nervous. Everything will be fine in your next scheduled class.
This is a time for us as members of the Church to demonstrate faith in the Savior and unity. It is not a time for fear. This is a time for us as disciples of the Savior to be concerned less with public demonstration and more concerned with personal, private devotion. This is a time for us as disciples of the Savior to carry on, not to halt nor to pause.”
Within a few more sentences, President Bednar had moved on to his originally prepared devotional, “Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept.”
The devotional offered peace, but even with that peace there was heartache and confusion. The images and videos of the event consumed all media for weeks. It was devastating and with each passing day grew more uncertainty. I was fully aware of what was going on but I had no idea the impact this single day would have on me and our country for the rest of my life.
There are few moments in my life that I can recount every single little detail, but this day was one of them. Although tragic, the unity of our country immediately following is something few generations will experience.
It has changed me.