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"Joy Came in the Morning": How Faith and Friendship Got Me Through 9/11

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 12, 2022 3:00 am

"Joy Came in the Morning": How Faith and Friendship Got Me Through 9/11

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 12, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Ash was still rising from Jocelyn Green’s yard as she mowed a week after 9/11. Her house was mere miles from the Pentagon. She felt the attacks and experienced the fallout from them first hand. For our 9/11 Special, Jocelyn tells us about how she learned to live after the events of that day.

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This is Lee Habib and this is our American Stories. And today, all show long, we're honoring and remembering the events of September 11th, 2001. All show long, you'll be hearing stories from those who witnessed the events on that day and stories about the events of that day. Up next, a story from Jocelyn Green, who was working in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C., on the morning of September 11th.

Take it away, Jocelyn. On September 11th, 2001, I was a 23-year-old single woman working in Washington, D.C., just eight blocks from the capital. We were in a staff meeting when the receptionist on duty burst into the conference room and blurted out, they hit the Pentagon, you can see the smoke from the rooftop.

The woman beside me screamed and I quietly fought the rising tide of panic swelling inside my chest. We were told another plane was headed for us. We were sitting ducks and we knew it. Throngs of people were streaming out of the buildings on Capitol Hill, running over each other to go who knows where. Fighter jets roared over the city, drowning out the sounds of chirping birds and casting ominous shadows on this otherwise cloudless blue sky day. Rumors were reported as news on the television. We heard that a car bomb detonated at the State Department, that the 14th Street Bridge had been blown up, which was our way to get across the Potomac River and get home.

It seemed the whole world was falling down around us. That afternoon, we came together as a staff to pray. A woman quoted scripture in her prayer. Weeping remains for a night, she said, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm chapter 30, verse 5. I remember thinking, how long will this night last before we feel joy again? The Pentagon was less than a mile from my home in Arlington. I passed through it twice a day up until that point to catch a bus or a subway train. The attack on the Pentagon was an attack on my neighborhood. I felt violated.

It was personal to me. Driving home that evening, for some reason I chose not to use the metro system that morning, we passed by the Pentagon. The smoke from the fires was choking even from inside the car with the windows rolled up. The fire still blazed and would for at least a week.

They kept reigniting themselves. That evening, I took a break from watching the news and decided to mow the lawn. But this tragic event wasn't something I could just turn off when I turned off the TV. For when I pushed the lawnmower across the grass, I walked through clouds of swirling ash that had carried on the wind from the Pentagon. The air outside my home, my home, smelled like smoke for at least a week. Is it any wonder this attack felt personal to me? It happened in my backyard.

I felt sick to my stomach for three days and cried until the well ran dry. But at no point did I question the existence of God or have a crisis of faith. God was still God, and I still trusted him. The terrorist attacks were evidence that we live in a fallen world alongside other sinners. And even as I mourned for those who lost their lives and mourned for those of us who lost our sense of safety in our own country, I recognize that this was not the first time a terrorist had attacked. In certain parts of the world, terrorism occurs on a regular basis.

How selfish would it be for me to be okay with God while evil happens to other countries, but once it comes to my doorstep, to shake my fist at him? No, my faith did not suffer, but my sense of peace did. A dark cloud settled over my spirit in the weeks after September 11th, 2001.

My enemy did not have a face. It was grief and fear. People I used to ride the bus to the Pentagon with, I never saw again. I stared at the vacant seats while we silently snaked our way through traffic, wondering about their families. Every radio station talked about bomb shelters, anthrax, and other possible methods of terrorism.

We rolled our windows down while driving over bridges, so if the bridge blew up while we were on it, we could escape the car while at sink in the river. Standing in the subway station, waiting for my train to come, we heard what seemed like an explosion not too far from us. I locked eyes with a stranger. No doubt we were both just as startled, both thinking about how dangerous a subway station could be if a terrorist chose to attack it. In moments like those, we were no longer just fellow commuters. We were fellow Americans, bracing ourselves against our fears even as we tried to live life as normal.

I know it sounds dramatic, but those were dramatic times. Two weeks after the terrorist attacks, I went to a prayer meeting at a local church. I sat in a hard wooden pew, my head in my hands, when I heard the floorboards near me squeak. When I looked up, I saw a girl I went to college with.

Here she was, looking so out of place in that somber church, with her eyes dancing and one hand covering her mouth to keep from giggling. Since I was her RA in college, we weren't really friends then, but when I saw her, we hugged and stepped out of the church and into the sunshine together. She had been working for her congressman, but wasn't allowed back to work for weeks because of the anthrax scare and the cleanup. So we had coffee together, then a meal. Then I was going with her on all kinds of trips.

Mount Vernon, Annapolis, the Smithsonian Museums, outdoor concerts at Wolf Trap. Even after she was allowed back at work, the friendship continued. We went to New York City together.

We hosted Thanksgiving for a dozen singles who had no place else to go. The dark cloud hanging over me lifted, and this friend helped me to chase after joy, to grab hold of it and not let go. We still knew life was forever different, but I learned that I could still laugh and enjoy the good gifts God gives us.

Life was still full of my favorite things. Joy came in the morning. The terrorist attacks were intended to cause a crippling fear to take root in our country.

But you know what? I saw Bible studies pop up in the offices of senators and congressmen where God's name was not mentioned before. I saw people reaching out to each other. We prayed more. Terrorism was met with heroism, and what man intended for evil, God used for good. And a beautiful job on the editing and production by Monty Montgomery. And a special thanks to Jocelyn Green for sharing her story, her Washington, D.C. story. I too was in D.C. On that day, I was working at CBS, and you could feel the impact. Terrorism was met with heroism, Jocelyn said, and what man intended for evil, God used for good. The story of 9-11, a remembrance of 9-11, all show long here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country, and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture, and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College. A place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life, and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses. Go to to learn more.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 18:45:01 / 2023-02-17 18:48:24 / 3

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