Retired New York City firefighter
I knew from being a fireman that my son could not have been in a worse possible
position. All of the people above -- you could not have been in a worse spot
than anybody in that fire. ... I asked [God] for help that day and he couldn't
do it. You know, I was looking for more give-backs. I thought a couple more
firemen would walk out of that building, but it just didn't work that way. But
I continue to ask. My son's two brothers were there that day. I could have
lost three sons. I could have lost more firemen that were there, that I knew,
that I've talked to. And they made it. So they are the give-backs. ... I
question, why not me, and leave my son? I mean, I would have switched. ... I
asked Him in the beginning, "If you could give me this one, I would appreciate
it." But He had nothing to do with this. There were a lot more people who
could have been killed. He was fighting evil that day, like He does every day.
I realized that the first plane hit my daughter's building. And as I bent over
to pick up the telephone, my daughter was on the other line. And she was
telling me that she was scared, and that it was real smoky in there and they
couldn't breathe. ... She didn't know what happened. So I told her that a
plane had hit her building and for them to get out of there. And I could hear
my daughter tell her coworkers that her mother told her a plane hit the
building and they needed to get out. And then she asked me where was her baby.
And I told her I had her baby and he was OK. She asked me just to take care of
him, and I said, "OK, just get out of there." And I ran out my apartment and
into the hallway and I was just screaming in the hallway. And all of a sudden
my neighbors came out and they didn't know what had happened and I said, "My
baby's gone." That night, when I went to bed, after I finally was able to lay
down, there's a light that shines through my window and for some reason this
light was real bright and I opened my eyes and I saw an angel. She was dressed
in white and she had a smile on her face and I took that to believe that she
was letting me know that my daughter was in heaven and that she was OK. I just
pray every day that she didn't suffer. Maybe she just fell off to sleep and she didn't feel anything. I know she was scared, but I know my daughter also
has faith in God, so I know she was praying. I never question why God didn't
intervene. I often ask the question as to why He picked her, but I have come
to the conclusion that I felt God knew something that I didn't know. Maybe He
felt that she, even though she was here 23 years, that she was suffering a lot
more than I knew about. And I felt that God knew best. I always felt that way
when He takes someone -- that He knows better than we do.
Retired New York City police officer
They say the planes hit the building somewhere in the 92nd to the 101st floor.
It's terrible to think that 2,000 gallons of petrol burned through the
building, totally scorching my daughter to death. Our son-in-law, Nurul, worked
on the 93rd floor. We were hoping that he might have just barely survived. I
pray to Allah that if they survive, let them both survive. If they have to
die, let them both go to Allah together. What was Allah's wish? My daughter
and her husband both went to Allah together.
In their one year of marriage, I have never seen my daughter unhappy. Nurul
took great care of her and made her so happy. We were very lucky to have found
Nurul. But even after finding him, we still lost him. And I cannot protest to
Allah or ask why He took my daughter. It is all His will. No matter what I do
-- if I cry, if I scream, I can't bring her back, and so I have to accept that
it is Allah's will.
Showkatara Sharif Chowdhury
It was the darkest day in my life. Loneliest day in my life. Most horrifying
day in my life. When I looked out that window, towards the Statue of Liberty,
and I saw that plane coming towards me, I was numb. This monstrous plane
looking at me, like, "I'm taking you." Part of the 82nd floor collapsed. All
of the walls were knocked flat. I was screaming! Crying! And praying out
loud, "Lord! Help me! Please! Send somebody!" ... I felt like this strange
force came over me. This power that I've never felt before. And I looked at
this wall and I started to hit and punch and kick. And I busted a little hole.
And Brian said, "I see your hand!"
And I heard this, "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! ... Help! Help!"
And I was able to grab onto something, whether it was his collar or we locked
arms, I'm not sure, and then I lifted him out. And we fell on a heap on the
floor, and we introduced ourselves. And he said, "Oh! Hallelujah! I'm
Stanley!" And I said, "My name is Brian. We might be friends for life!" You
know that sort of emotion overcame us. And then I said, "Come on, let's go.
Let's get out of here."
So here I am, running, screaming, like everybody else. My Lord upheld this
building. Then we were in perfect safety. The building collapsed. And here I
am, got delivered, and I'm angry. Angry because all of these good people who
were there, the firefighters, the cops, the EMS workers, all of these good
people who were left in this building, which I am sure they were, that couldn't
come down from the 81st or 82nd floor because of all of this debris. They
perished. So I'm angry.
Just like He intervenes in everybody's life, God intervened in my life that
day. I couldn't predict what He was going to do, I didn't feel like He was
intervening at any particular second, it just unfolded and here I am. Clearly
everybody had different experiences. My experience was to be able to meet
Stanley in a special way and to get ourselves out of the building. Other
people didn't have that same experience. Whatever God's plan is, was, and
shall be -- is, was, and shall be. I can't question it.
It was Dec. 6, and I was in Hawaii with a lot of the firemen from my husband's
house. And I felt his presence everywhere that day and everybody kept
remarking how they felt Dave's presence at the beach. It was the first day I
felt relaxed, that I could finally enjoy something, and it just felt good to
breathe in the air and watch the firemen smile for the first time since the
11th. I got back to the hotel room and I guess that's when I really felt the
stark reality of everything and I sat there by myself and watched the sunrise.
And it was a startling beauty. I couldn't believe that this God that I'd talked
to in my own way for 35 years could make the most beautiful place in the world
and turn this loving man into bones. And I couldn't reconcile the difference
between those two extremes. And I guess that's when I felt that my faith was
so weakened by the 11th. And so I felt like God was just not present in me the
way it had been. I guess all I feel at this point is the profound absence of
Dave. And my conversations with God that I used to have, I don't have anymore.
I just can't bring myself to talk. ... I used to talk quietly to myself or to
God and say, "Thank you for Dave. Thank you for Aidan. Thank you for my life.
God bless everyone. God bless the children." You know, "Please heal the
sick." You know, the usual blessings. And now I can't bring myself to speak
to Him anymore because I feel so abandoned. I guess deep down inside I know
that He still exists and that I have to forgive and move on, but I'm not ready
to do that yet.
We're a community in mourning; we were hit pretty bad. I knew close to 30
people who died at the World Trade [Center]. Basically, they were firemen, young
stockbrokers, sons of friends I knew. I miss them dearly. I don't know if I'm
ever going to get over a couple of them. I mean, we were really tight. We did
a lot of things together. And I had to come down to the beach here to just let
loose, and it was brutal. I let loose at God. I fired all of my barrels at
Him. It might sound crazy, but I cursed Him. I damned Him. I think God could
have just ended this all. That's why I feel strongly that I'm losing respect
for Him. I know there's a trinity. I believe in the Son, but the Father I'm
having a rough time dealing with. I'm really having a rough time. I don't
have any love for God. For the weeks that followed September 11, it was really
hatred. I can't accept this unless I can have an answer as to why it all
occurred. ... When I come down here, and no question about it, I cry when I
come down here, and I'll talk to my friends. I think my friends can hear me.
God knows they are watching over all of us. I feel sometimes that they are
helping me along with my life, trying to make me stronger. ... It was too
barbaric the way the lives were taken. That wasn't mercy. So I look at Him now
as a barbarian, and I probably will, and it's a sad situation. I think I am a
good Christian, but I have a different view and image of Him now and I can't
replace it with the old image. I can't replace it with the old image.
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