America prepares to pause Saturday and remember the 20-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York, and Washington, D.C.
From solemn services planned at the attack sites of the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and at Shanksville, Penn., where 40 passengers and crew fought back against their al Qaeda hijackers, bringing the plane down before it could strike another target in the nation's capital.
It was a day any American old enough to remember can tell you where they were and what they were doing when news of the first plane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center first broke.
Not much information was known after the first strike. But over the course of three hours, the south tower of the Trade Center was hit by another hijacked aircraft, followed by another passenger plane crashing into the Pentagon. Then the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 fought back against the terrorists who had hijacked the plane until the terrorists crashed the plane as a result of the uprising into a Pennsylvania field.
Leslie Haskin worked on the 36th floor of Tower One in the World Trade Center. Miraculously, she survived the deadly terror attack. But then in the months following the attack, she suffered crippling mental and emotional distress. At one point, she even became homeless.
"When the plane hit the building, where we escaped from was where the jumpers were," Haskin told CBN News. "So, we could hear the impact of their bodies and we could see them as well. So, for me over the years it's been that sound and those visions. I was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. I suffered a mental breakdown and became homeless with my son. I couldn't speak. I couldn't even function after 9/11. It was a long journey for me for recovery."
But from the rubble and ashes, Haskin rediscovered the faith of her childhood and now embraces a new life serving others.
"I was raised in a Christian home, so I knew how to pray," she explained. "I knew about the Lord. I knew that God is good. But I never had that experience with him that I could own it. So, after 9/11, I went to the Lord and I just prayed. 'If you are really the God that my mother said you were if you are the God that my father preached about, then I need to you to be bigger than this event for me, than 9/11 for me. And he showed up.'"
"As I got to know Him, I got to know Leslie. And then my faith increased," Haskin noted. "So, I know that it's going to sound a little jolting to some, but I was born after 9/11."
Haskin has written two books about her experience, Between Heaven and Ground Zero and When Your Towers Fall: A Survivor's Guide to Life After Loss. She hopes her journey to healing inspires and helps others who are struggling with issues in their lives.
Meanwhile, she hopes the country will once again unite as it did on that tragic day 20 years ago.
"After 9/11 the country came together in solidarity, and we flocked into the churches and just showed a unity and a hunger for God and to understand it," Haskin recalled. "So, as we're going through 20 years of looking back and remembering the pandemic and so much racial unrest, what's top of mind for me is getting folks to remember what it felt to want to be together. To need each other and to seek God."