Sept. 11, 2001.
On that day much of the world was shocked and dismayed by terrorist attacks carried out in U.S. airspace, killing nearly 3,000 people. Terrorists deliberately crashed planes into the World Trade Center, destroying its twin towers, and into the Pentagon, causing extensive damage. Another target escaped a hit when passengers thwarted terrorists on their aircraft; all aboard died when their plane crashed into a field.
In the wake of these horrific acts of infamy, sorrow burrowed into the very heart and soul of the United States of America, as well as many other nations. A somber mood spread across states, countries, even continents. Bells tolled mournful lamentations and choirs sang dirges from classic requiems. Citizens choked through lumps in throats to raise their voices in hymns and patriotic anthems. Leaders of many faiths delivered consoling messages and encouraged their congregations to replace hate with love, fear with courage, despair with hope, desire for revenge with forgiveness.
Latter-day Saints, along with many other Christians, drew upon the Atonement as a balm for wounded hearts. In a memorial service held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Sept. 14, 2001, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Our hearts are broken our spirits subdued. We bow before the Almighty in reverence and reach out to those who have lost their lives, to their families, and to those who were wounded in the attacks made against our beloved nation."
President Hinckley spoke of the Son of God who gave His life that all might have eternal life and said that it is "to Him that we look on this dark and somber occasion."
A little more than two weeks later, during the Sunday morning session of the 171st Semiannual General Conference, President Hinckley said, "Now, all of us know that war, contention, hatred, suffering of the worst kind are not new. The conflict we see today is but another expression of the conflict that began with the war in heaven."
He quoted Revelation 12:7-10, which tells of how Satan "was cast out into the Earth, and his angels were cast out with him," and afterward, was "heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ."
President Hinckley said, "That must have been a terrible conflict. The forces of evil were pitted against the forces of good. The great deceiver, the son of the morning, was defeated and banished, and took with him a third of the hosts of heaven. … From the day of Cain to the present, the adversary has been the great mastermind of the terrible conflicts that have brought so much suffering.
"Treachery and terrorism began with him. And they will continue until the Son of God returns to rule and reign with peace and righteousness among the sons and daughters of God."
President Thomas S. Monson, today's Church president and prophet of the Lord, has spoken many times about the healing powers of the Atonement. While a counselor in the First Presidency, he spoke during the October 1991 general conference, a little less than 10 years before the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, saying, "There is one life that sustains those who are troubled or beset with sorrow and grief — even the Lord Jesus Christ. Foretelling His coming, the prophet Isaiah records: 'He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
"'He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
" 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed' (Isaiah 53:2–5).
"Yes, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is our Exemplar and our strength. He is the light that shineth in darkness. He is the Good Shepherd. Though engaged in His majestic ministry, He embraced the opportunity to lift burdens, provide hope, mend bodies, and restore life."
As we offer prayers and attend services and special programs as memorials of the tragic events of ten years ago, may we remember that the God of us all is ever mindful of us. As we yearn for peace in a troubled world, let us call upon the Lord and be reassured that He will lead us, and that it is through His Holy Spirit that we will find our greatest comfort.