I was on a bus. I was standing in a crowded bus from downtown Salt Lake City heading to the University of Utah campus, and I overheard other students talking about a bomb in Washington. When I arrived at the campus I went to the library to study a bit before class started, and they had a tv set up just outside the computer lab with a pretty big crowd around it. As I walked through the library towards my usual study table I stopped off at a bank of computers to check email. A library worker came by and told us that "because of what happened" there was a lot of traffic that morning and so the internet wouldn't work very well.
The rest of the morning is kind of a blur. I slowly began to get more information as word trickled through about what had happened. I skipped my first class. I later went to my behavioral management class where the professor told us not to be afraid because that's what the terrorists want.
At that time I worked as an intern in the federal building downtown. I got there around 12 or 1 and it was a very somber place. I wasn't there very long before they sent us home. I found out later that shortly after I left someone called in a bomb threat.
I rode the train home and watched the news with my family the rest of the day. I was stunned. It was as if the earth itself had paused in disbelief.
The next days were powerful and emotional. Thousands of people had died at the hands of Middle Eastern terrorists. My boss at the federal building was called to active duty. Before he left, he told us of being on the train with a middle eastern man and noticing everyone was quiet and staring at him uncomfortably. My boss spoke up and told everyone they were being stupid. Others later succumbed to the same stupidity and started a Pakistani restaurant on fire.
The next day, or the day after, the LDS Church held a memorial in the Tabernacle. Most of my office mates and I walked to Temple Square to attend. The First Presidency spoke, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang. We all joined in with the choir to sing "America the Beautiful", and few eyes were dry at the end.
The next days and weeks were unsure ones. Body counts were updated from the Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the passengers' actions on Flight 93 made news. I arrived on campus one morning to find the sidewalks covered in messages from anti-war activists urging no retaliation for the attacks. Radio stations began playing songs with audio clips from that day and the days that followed.
Nine days after the attacks, President Bush addressed the country. He confirmed that the attacks were planned and carried out by a terrorist group called al Queda, with a leader named Osama bin Laden- the same organization responsible for numerous attacks on American, and foreign, targets around the world. He praised the American spirit and resilience shown in the face of the attacks, but also pointed out that the attacks killed hundreds of citizens of other nations. He thanked foreign governments that had shown support, and criticized those that harbored terrorist groups like al Queda's. He singled out Afghanistan, and demanded they turn over all terrorist leadership in their country, but he also spoke out against any and all nations that supported terrorism, saying, "Our war on terror begins with al Queda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated."
In October, the LDS church held its General Conference. As church prophet Gordon B. Hinckley began to speak, he was handed a note saying the US had begun its attack on Afghanistan. President Hinckley then gave his prepared talk about the times in which we live. He concluded by saying,
"Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him. He has declared, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps. 33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.
Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).
Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us."