Chaplains' Corner - A 9/11 Reflection and Remembrance

As we approach the twentieth anniversary of September 11, 2001, there are few people who have a more vivid memory of where they were and what they were doing than those of us who were working as Flight Controllers on that day in our profession. As I reflected on the impact 9/11 made in our industry over the last twenty years, it occurred to me, that out of the tears and ashes of those dark days, the new American Airlines was resurrected. That event, and all the repercussions of it, brought each of us together here today. Each of us who were working that day can tell detailed stories of the events and impact it made upon us. At times, it seems it was just like yesterday, and at other times like it was a lifetime ago. I still remember specific details of the conversations I was having with some of the flights I was diverting that morning, while the rest of the shift seemed to be a blur. It was however the following day, after a sleepless night of prayer and worry, amid the deafening silence of our normally noisy Operations Control Center, that my life was forever changed. As I looked at the anxious and fearful faces in that quiet Ops. Control Center on September the 12th, it fully occurred to me our world and my life would never be the same. I had NO idea how true that revelation would be! It was in that silent moment, I thought, “Dear God! We desperately need you here” and to my surprise, I heard God’s soft still voice clearly say to me, “that’s why I placed you here.” At that moment, I couldn’t remotely comprehend what that revelation would mean, but I have never forgotten the profound peace that washed over me. On that day, the heading of the flight plan of my life and ministry changed forever. It became the “soul purpose” and calling of my life, which has provided me the opportunity to bring the ministry of presence into our profession. The ministry presence didn’t visibly exist in our industry prior to its darkest days, which affirmed St. Paul’s words that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28)”. The ministry of presence certainly proved to be a priceless blessing through the mega-merger challenges after 911, and most recently through the unprecedented challenges of Covid in our industry. From that faithful day long ago has arisen, “The Chaplains Corner.” These occasional "spiritual first responder" articles provide Chaplain PIREP’s (Pastoral Information Reports) with spiritual course guidance for your personal flight plans, as we care for one another on life’s journey. May God continued protection and provision be with you on your journey!

See my 9/11 video story at: