There are many things and many people to remember and honor today. Some of them gave the ultimate sacrifice. And still others continue to serve in such a way that they put their lives at risk for the benefit of others every moment of every day.
We remember those who are gone, we remember those who are still here, we remember those who are serving, we remember those who are living without a loved one.
I recently read about an account of the last survivor to be rescued at Ground Zero, I'd like to take just a second to share it with you - from the book "Praying the Names of God - A Daily Guide by Ann Spangler".
Have you ever sat across the table from some one who shouldn't even be walking around on the planet? A year ago I met a woman named Genelle Guzman-McMillan. Her story mezmerized me because she survived troubles the rest of us have only encountered in our nightmares. She is the last survivor of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Genelle is a soft-spoken woman who remembers what happened in terrifying detail. Employed by the Port Authority of New York, she arrived a little after 8 a.m. on September 11 and rode the elevator to her job on the sixty-fourth floor of the north tower. Thinking it was safe to stay, Genelle didn't attempt to leave the building until after the second plane hit. Racing down fifty-one flights of stairs in high heels, she stopped for a moment on the thriteenth floor. As she bent down to remove her shoes, the north tower collapsed on top of her.
Like millions of others, I watched the horrifying scene via live TV, convinced that no one had survived the collapse of the second tower.
Here's what happened to Genelle when all hell broke loose:
One hundred ten floors were coming down around us. I knew I was being buried alive. The noise was deafening...
When I woke again I told myself I had to do something. But what could I do? "God, you've got to help me!" I prayed. "You've got to show me a sign, show me a miracle, give me a second chance. Please save my life!" My eyes were so caked with grime that the tears couldn't come, but I felt it in my heart. I was talking to God as though he were right there. I told him I was ready to live my life the right way. "Lord, just give me a second chance, and I promise I will do your will."...
The next day I heard a beep-beep sound like a truck backing up. I called for help, but there was no response....Finally someone hollered back: "Hello, is somebody there?" "Yes, help me! My name is Genelle, and I'm on the thirteenth floor," I cried, not realizing how ludicrous the information about my location must have sounded, coming from a pile of rubble...
I could see a bit of daylight coming through a crack, so I stuck my hand through it...I stretched my hand out as far as I could, and this time someone grabbed it. "Genelle, I've got you! You're gong to be all right. My name is Paul. I won't let go of your hand until they get you out."
Genelle had prayed to the God she had ignored for most of her life, and he had been there for her. After twenty-seven hours she was pulled out of the rubble and then spent five weeks in the hospital recuperating. Afterward, she tried to locate Paul, the man who had held onto her hand until she was rescued. Later, when she asked about him, her rescuers assured her: "There's no one named Paul on our team....nobody was holding your hand when we were removing the rubble."
Was Paul an angel sent to comfort and help her? Was it God himself? Or was it a regular Joe, just rolling up his sleeves to help and the rescuers didn't remember him? It really doesn't matter - it doesn't take away from the miracle of the moment. When I read her account of the building collapsing around them, my lungs get tight and I can only imagine not being able to breathe while being buried alive!
Today we remember, we honor, we pray...