9/11 We will not forget!

By Kami Klein

On September 11th, 2001, we witnessed the worst of humanity; an evil we could not imagine. Over 3000 lost their lives that day when a group of terrorists shook our nation to its core. The loss of so many rippled throughout the world.  Families were torn apart within a few hours. The grief was unimaginable and America’s heart was broken. 

 After the attacks, countless stories unfolded revealing extraordinary acts of courage, sacrifice, kindness, and compassion. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center in New York City alone over 16.000 people performed rescue, recovery, demolition and debris cleanup.  These amazing men and women did not know or care about the dangers of their task but rose up in tremendous courage to show the best of what America stands for. 

Ground zero contained toxic dust that held heavy metals and asbestos and other dangerous chemicals.  We are seeing the aftermath years later as countless of these heroes of 9/11 have died or are very sick from illnesses related to this tragedy.  Scarring in the lungs has effected hundreds of responders and experts say this is only the beginning.   

So far, 156 New York City police officers have died from 9/11 related illnesses. 182 in the Fire Department. Countless others are facing debilitating lung disease and aggressive cancers. 

We cannot forget those who lost their lives on 9/11.  We cannot forget now, those that are still giving their lives for our country because of that day and the days following 9/11.  

Eighteen years ago, the nation turned to God.  The churches were filled and prayers were said all over the world. We embraced each other no matter what political belief or religious faith. We were not offended by each other because together we were at war with evil. 

We are still at war but somehow we have turned on one another. 

The attack of 9/11 is not over.  Our heroes from that day are the victims now. We must remember those who are still suffering and fill our churches with faith and prayer. We the people of the United States must feel called upon to honor these brave men and women.  May we come together again, as we did on that day when Love won over hate, Good over evil, and all of us remembered that we are Americans and were willing to sacrifice for each other.

The Lord worked through the very best of us that day and continued doing so during the months and years that have passed. In our prayers, in our memories, and in the stories that we must pass on, these are the people and heroes we cannot afford to ever forget!   

 

Hong Kong protesters pause to mark Sept. 11

By Jessie Pang

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong activists called off protests on Wednesday in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and denounced a Chinese state newspaper report that they were planning “massive terror” in the Chinese-ruled city.

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of sometimes violent unrest, prompted by anger over planned legislation to allow extraditions to China, but broadening into calls for democracy and for Communist rulers in Beijing to leave the city alone.

“Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,” the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily said on its Facebook page, alongside a picture of the hijacked airliner attacks on the twin towers in New York.

“The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires.”

The post said “leaked information was part of the strategy being schemed by radical protesters in their online chat rooms”.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent legal system, triggering the anger over the extradition bill.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the bill but many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is steadily eroding the autonomy of the Asian financial hub.

China denies meddling and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.

“We don’t even need to do a fact check to know that this is fake news,” said one protester, Michael, 24, referring to the China Daily post. “The state media doesn’t care about its credibility. Whenever something they claimed to have heard on WhatsApp or friends’ friends, they will spread it right away.”

The protesters called off action on Wednesday.

“In solidarity against terrorism, all forms of protest in Hong Kong will be suspended on Sept. 11, apart from potential singing and chanting,” they said in a statement.

The China Daily report was worrying, said another protester, Karen, 23. “When they try to frame the whole protest with those words, it alarms me,” she said. “They are predicting rather than reporting. I think people calling it off today is a nice move.”

FAMILY FRICTIONS

The chairwoman of the Hong Kong Federation of Women, Pansy Ho, a prominent businesswoman and daughter of Macau casino operator Stanley Ho, said she was worried about violent extremism.

“Children of all ages are indoctrinated with police hatred and anti-establishment beliefs at school and online mobilized to conduct massive school strikes,” she told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Lam said in a speech on Wednesday that Hong Kong was grappling with significant challenges.

“My fervent hope is that we can bridge our divide by upholding the one country, two systems principle, and the Basic Law, and through the concerted efforts of the government and the people of Hong Kong,” she told business leaders.

The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd has become the biggest corporate casualty of the unrest after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, the protests.

Cathay Pacific said on Wednesday inbound traffic to Hong Kong in August fell 38% and outbound traffic 12% compared with a year earlier, and that it did not anticipate September to be any less difficult.

Joshua Wong, one of the prominent leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy movement which brought key streets in Hong Kong to a standstill for 79 days, said in Berlin that the fight for democracy was an uphill battle.

“I hope one day not only Hong Kong people, but also people in mainland China, can enjoy freedom and democracy,” he said.

The protests spread to the sports field on Tuesday, as many football fans defied Chinese law to boo the national anthem ahead of a soccer World Cup qualifier against Iran.

Several peaceful protests are planned for the next few days, combining with celebrations marking the Mid-Autumn Festival.

(Reporting by Jessie Pang, Farah Master, Jamie Freed, Cecile Mantovani in Geneva and Michelle Martin in Berlin; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Mark Heinrich & Simon Cameron-Moore)

Associate of Sept. 11 hijackers to be deported from Germany after jail term

Moroccan Mounir El Motassadeq is escorted at Hamburg airport as he is released from prison in Hamburg, Germany, October 15, 2018, after serving a 15-year jail sentence for helping hijackers to organise the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN (Reuters) – A Moroccan associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers is being moved from a German prison in preparation for deportation after serving most of a 15-year jail term for helping organize the 2011 attacks on U.S. targets, authorities said on Monday.

Mounir El Motassadeq was a member of a group of radical Islamists based in the northern German port city of Hamburg who helped bring about the suicide attacks with hijacked airliners that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Handed the maximum sentence of 15 years in 2007 for being an accessory to mass murder, Motassadeq is one of only two men convicted to date of involvement in the plot.

“Everything is going according to plan,” said a spokesman for the state of Hamburg’s interior ministry, declining to give details, other than to say that Motassadeq’s release was permissible from Oct. 15 if he was deported immediately.

Photographs showed a man with covered eyes being led by two armed policemen to a helicopter. German media reported that he would be taken to Frankfurt to be deported to Morocco, where his family lives.

The spokesman in Hamburg could not say exactly when his sentence was due to end. German media have reported he was due to stay behind bars until November or early next year.

At his 2007 trial, his lawyers argued that Motassadeq knew nothing about the Sept. 11 plot. But prosecutors said he played a central role in suicide hijacker Mohammed Atta’s group by running the financial affairs of some cell members.

Authorities in Hamburg said they would confirm the deportation once it has taken place.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Trump pays tribute to 9/11 ‘true heroes’ in Pennsylvania memorial visit

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand together at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Roberta Rampton

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday lauded the men and women of United Flight 93 for saving countless lives when they struggled with hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001 and called the field where the plane went down a monument to “American defiance.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands and talk as they walk from the Marine One helicopter to Air Force One at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport prior to departing Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands and talk as they walk from the Marine One helicopter to Air Force One at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport prior to departing Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Commemorating the 17th anniversary of the attacks that struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, Trump said the nation shared the grief of the family members whose loved ones were lost that day.

“We grieve together for every mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter, who was stolen from us at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and here in this Pennsylvania field,” Trump said.

“We honor their sacrifice by pledging to never flinch in the face of evil and to do whatever it takes to keep America safe.”

Flight 93 was heading to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, when passengers stormed the plane’s cockpit and sought to take control from the hijackers, crashing in a field and preventing what was thought to be another planned target in Washington.

Family members of Flight 93, some of their voices breaking, read aloud the names of the 40 passengers and crew members who died. Memorial bells tolled.

Trump and his wife, Melania, traveled to the Flight 93 National Memorial from Washington and paused for a moment of reflection while overlooking the field where the plane crashed.

U.S. President Donald Trump andfirst lady Melania Trump walk at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump andfirst lady Melania Trump walk at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“They boarded the plane as strangers and they entered eternity linked forever as true heroes,” Trump said of the passengers and crew.

“This field is now a monument to American defiance. This memorial is now a message to the world: America will never, ever submit to tyranny.”

Commemorations also took place in New York and Washington to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton,; Writing by Jeff Mason; Editing by Alistair Bell)

For families of some 9/11 victims, new DNA tools reopen old wounds

Andrew Schweighardt holds a vial with a DNA sample at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York during an event in New York City, New York, U.S., September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Gabriella Borter and Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A breakthrough in DNA analysis is helping identify more victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, but the scientific advance is of little consolation for families of those whose remains may have been buried in a Staten Island landfill.

The official death toll in the attacks on lower Manhattan’s World Trade Center is 2,753, including the missing and presumed dead. Only 1,642 of them, or about 60 percent, have been positively identified.

The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office has worked for 17 years to identify the remaining 1,100 victims. Using advances in DNA extraction techniques over the past five years, it has made five more identifications.

The advances have been bittersweet for 9/11 families who unsuccessfully fought to stop the city from making a park out of Staten Island’s enormous Fresh Kills landfill, where 1.8 million tons of Twin Towers debris was dumped and buried.

“We are grateful that the identification continues, but there is more material that could have been part of that had the city not been so cavalier with us,” said Diane Horning, who led a failed court battle by a group called World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial that hoped block the park project.

Horning led the group, although her son Matthew was one of those identified early on. Matthew, 26, a database administrator for an insurance company, was working the 95th floor of the North Tower when the planes hit.

New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2009 that accusations that the city had mishandled the remains at Fresh Kills amounted to “lack of due care,” which was not sufficient to successfully sue the city.

New York officials said at the time that the city did not intend to be insensitive or offend victims’ families.

To create the park, Fresh Kills Landfill was covered with layers of soil and other materials to prevent the release of toxic gas from decomposing trash into the atmosphere, according to the Freshkills Park Alliance, New York City’s nonprofit partner in developing the park.

Charles Wolf lost his wife Katherine on September 11 and her remains have not been identified.

If they are in the sealed landfill, he considers it “God’s will” and he is “at peace” with it.

“What’s the remedy? Dig everything up and risk exposing all those toxins again to the environment?, Wolf said. “No, that’s not the answer, because all of a sudden now the cure is worse than the disease.”

SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH

The ability to identify more victims is the latest chapter in a saga of pain that began on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when two airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Destruction of the Twin Towers was part of the coordinated hijackings of four airliners by al-Qaeda militants that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania, where one of the planes crashed in a farm field. The attacks triggered an escalation of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East that persists to this day.

A scientific breakthrough in the extraction of genetic material was made this year and announced by the New York City chief medical examiner last week, as the 17th anniversary of the attacks approached.

The new technique places bone fragments in a chamber containing liquid nitrogen to make them more fragile so they can be pulverized into fine powder. The more a bone is pulverized, the more likely it becomes to extract DNA.

It is the latest effort in the largest forensic investigation in U.S. history, involving a medical examiner’s team of 10 scientists working on remains once thought too degraded from jet fuel, heat and other conditions to undergo testing.

“We’re going back to the same remains that we’ve tried five, 10, 15 times,” Mark Desire, who heads the Medical Examiner’s crime lab, said in the briefing last week.

“We are making DNA profiles from remains we had no hopes of identifying in the past,” he added.

Wolf, who was not among those who opposed the Freshkills Park project, was gratified by the renewed effort.

“It warms my heart that possibly there will be remains found for people who still want them,” he said.

“I’ve gone through a lot of trauma with nothing to grieve over,” Wolf said, choking up in a telephone interview. “I remember watching Nancy Reagan touch her husband’s casket. I miss not having that.”

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Afghanistan will never again be militant sanctuary: U.S. ambassador

U.S. soldiers take part in a memorial ceremony to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in Kabul, Afghanistan September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

By Josh Smith

KABUL (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said on Monday Washington would never allow militants to use the country as a sanctuary, as American and allied troops in Kabul commemorated the Sept. 11 attacks.

U.S. President Donald Trump in August committed nearly 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan as part of an open-ended campaign against Taliban insurgents who have made advances in recent years.

A U.S. led intervention sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks toppled the Taliban government in 2001. Since then more than 2,400 American troops and more than 1,000 international allies have died in Afghanistan.

“Today we remember how this conflict began but let us also remember how this must end, with Afghanistan never again serving as an ungoverned space, sanctuary or base for those who are bent on attacking us and our allies,” ambassador Hugo Llorens told a crowd of soldiers at the NATO coalition’s headquarters in Kabul.

The United states would also “completely annihilate” Islamic State militants in the region, Llorens said.

The Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that wounded several NATO troops and Afghan civilians in a province north Kabul.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Democrats want 9/11-style special commission to probe Russia

rainy day at Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic members of the U.S. Congress called on Monday for the creation of an independent commission to investigate Russia’s attempts to intervene in the 2016 election, similar to the Sept. 11 panel that probed the 2001 attacks on the United States.

Their “Protecting our Democracy Act” would create a 12-member, bipartisan independent panel to interview witnesses, obtain documents, issue subpoenas and receive public testimony to examine attempts by Moscow and any other entities to influence the election.

The panel members would not be members of Congress.

The legislation is one of many calls by lawmakers to look into Russian involvement in the contest, in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the White House race, confounding opinion polls. Republicans also kept control of the Senate and House of Representatives by larger-than-expected margins.

U.S. intelligence agencies on Friday released a report saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Clinton.

Russia has denied the hacking allegations. A Kremlin spokesman said Monday they were “reminiscent of a witch-hunt.”

“There is no question that Russia attacked us,” Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a news conference.

Versions of the bill were introduced in both the Senate and House. In the Senate it has 10 sponsors. In the House it is backed by every member of the Democratic caucus, said Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

However, no Republicans currently back the bill, so its prospects are dim, given Republican control of both houses of Congress.

While a few Republicans, notably Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, have supported calls for an independent probe, party leaders have resisted the idea, saying that investigations by Republican-led congressional committees are sufficient.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who just returned from a trip to the Baltic states, Ukraine and Georgia with Graham and McCain, said Russia’s actions justified a probe by an independent panel of national experts.

“This is not just about one political party. It’s not even about one election. It’s not even about one country, our country. It is a repeated attempt… around the world, to influence elections,” Klobuchar said.

After Sept 11, 2001, Congress established an independent commission to look into the attacks and make recommendations about how to prevent similar actions in the future. Many of the recommendations were adopted into law.

“The American people felt good about what they did,” Cummings said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool)

Families remember 9/11 victims 15 years after attacks

Honor guard observing silence for 9/11

By Melissa Fares

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Americans remembered the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on Sunday at a ceremony marking 15 years, with the recital of their names, tolling church bells and a tribute in lights at the site where New York City’s massive twin towers collapsed.

As classical music drifted across the 9/11 Memorial plaza in lower Manhattan, family members and first responders slowly read the names and delivered personal memories of the almost 3,000 victims killed in the worst attack on U.S. soil since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Relatives in the crowd embraced and some held photos of loved ones and signs that read: “Never to be forgotten,” “We miss you,” and “Gone too soon.”

Tom Acquarviva’s 29-year-old son Paul was one of 658 employees of financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald who perished after the first plane struck the north tower just below where they worked on the 101st to 105th floors.

“Not a day goes by that we don’t remember him,” Acquarviva told Reuters.

Angela Checo honored her brother, Pedro Francisco, 35, who was a vice president at investment and wealth manager Fiduciary Trust on the 96th floor of the south tower.

“He was coming down but forgot someone and went back upstairs to save them,” Checo said. “That’s why he never made it down.”

The ceremony paused for six moments of silence: four to mark the exact times four hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon near Washington D.C., and a Pennsylvania field. The last two record when the North and South towers of the Trade Center crumpled.

It was held by two reflecting pools with waterfalls that now stand in the towers’ former footprints, and watched over by an honor guard of police and firefighters.

More than 340 firefighters and 60 police were killed on the that sunny Tuesday morning in 2001. Many of the first responders died while running up stairs in the hope of reaching victims trapped on the towers’ higher floors.

“PIECE OF THEIR HEART”

At the Pentagon, a trumpet played as U.S. President Barack Obama took part in a wreath-laying ceremony.

“Fifteen years may seem like a long time. But for the families who lost a piece of their heart that day, I imagine it can seem like just yesterday,” Obama said.

No public officials spoke at the New York ceremony, in keeping with a tradition that began in 2012. But many dignitaries attended, including Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump said in a statement that it was a day of sadness and remembrance, but also of resolve.

“Our solemn duty on behalf of all those who perished … is to work together as one nation to keep all of our people safe from an enemy that seeks nothing less than to destroy our way of life,” Trump said.

Clinton said in a statement that the horror of Sept. 11, 2001 would never be forgotten, and paid tribute to the victims and first responders.

She fell ill after about 90 minutes at the service, becoming “overheated,” aides said, and was taken to her daughter Chelsea’s apartment in Manhattan. She emerged later and told reporters she was “feeling great.”

TRIBUTE IN LIGHT

Houses of worship throughout the city had tolled their bells at 8:46 a.m. EDT (1246 GMT), the time American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower.

A second pause came at 9:03 a.m. (1303 GMT), when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. (1337 GMT), then the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. (1359 GMT).

At 10:03 a.m. (1403 GMT) United Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the final moment of silence was observed at 10:28 a.m. (1428 GMT) when the North Tower fell.

As evening falls across New York City on Sunday, scores of 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs will project two giant beams of blue light into the night sky to represent the fallen twin towers, fading away at dawn.

The “Tribute in Light” was first set up in 2002, six months after the attacks, and has become part of the annual memorial service. The beams reach four miles (6.4 km) into the sky and can be seen as far as 60 miles (96.6 km) away on a clear night, organizers say.

In the twin towers’ place now rises the 104-story 1 World Trade Center. Also known as the Freedom Tower, it is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, at 1,776 feet (541 meters). Fifteen years after the attack, the U.S. government marked its return to the site on Friday, moving its New York City offices there.

Nineteen hijackers died in the attack, later claimed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, which led directly to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and indirectly to the invasion of Iraq.

In Kabul, the top American commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, paid tribute to members of the NATO-led coalition and Afghan security forces who had been killed since the Taliban regime fell.

But in an address which touched on his own experience as an officer in Afghanistan, stretching back a decade, he also underlined how far from peace the country remains.

“As we know, sadly, the number of terrorist groups has only grown since 9/11,” he said. “Of the 98 groups now designated globally, 20 are in this region, the Afpak region.”

(Reporting by Melissa Fares; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and James Mackenzie in Kabul; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Where Was God on 9/11?

The Ground Zero Cross watching over workers

There is a minister who preached on the Sunday after 9/11 in one of our little churches here in the Ozarks.  The congregation came in that morning somber, still shaken and many were filled with an anger that troubled every moment.  The Pastor walked slowly to the podium and said,  “Even those with the most powerful faith are asking God a question.  Some of you have probably shouted it so all of heaven could hear you. Some of you have kept it quietly buried in your heart, but most of us have asked at least once,   ‘Our Heavenly Father, Where were you?’ ”  

His answer came from God’s word.

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

There are those that are given a gift of creativity that communicates His Grace directly to our hearts.  

This poem, written by Stacy Randall, is truly God inspired and answered the question from that Sunday perfectly…

MEET  ME IN THE STAIRWELL’

By Stacey Randall

You say you will never forget where you were  when you heard the news On September 11, 2001.

Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his  wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’  I held his fingers steady as he dialed.  I gave him the peace to say, “Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK.  I am ready to go.”

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children.  I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night. I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help.  “I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!” I said.

“Of course I will show you the way home – only believe in Me now.”

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven.  He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer.  I was with the crew as they were overtaken.  I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Virginia, California, Michigan, Afghanistan. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.

Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face.  I knew every name – though not all know Me.  Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.

Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; “Come to Me… this way… take my hand.”  Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.

But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day.  You may not know why, but I do.  However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you.  But someday your journey will end.  And I will be there for you as well.  Seek Me now while I may be found.  Then, at any moment, you know you are ‘ready to go.’

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

 Love,God

U.S. House votes to allow Sept. 11 families to sue Saudi Arabia

Firefighter walks amid the 9/11 rubble

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Friday that would allow the families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia’s government for damages, despite the White House’s threat to veto the measure.

The U.S. Senate in May unanimously passed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” known as JASTA. The bill’s passage in the House by voice vote, two days before the 15th anniversary of the attacks that killed about 3,000 people, was greeted with cheers and applause in the chamber.

“We can no longer allow those who injure and kill Americans to hide behind legal loopholes, denying justice to the victims of terrorism,” said Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers who crashed airliners in New York, outside Washington and in Pennsylvania were Saudi nationals. The Saudi government, which strongly denies responsibility, has lobbied against the bill.

Opponents of the measure said it could strain relations with Saudi Arabia and lead to retaliatory laws that would allow foreign nationals to sue Americans for alleged involvement in terrorist attacks.

The White House on Friday reiterated that President Barack Obama would veto the bill. [nW1N12802E]

If Obama carries out that threat and the required two-thirds of both the Republican-majority House and Senate still support the bill, it would be the first time since Obama’s presidency began in 2009 that Congress had overridden a veto.

The House passed the measure by voice vote, without objections or recorded individual votes. That could make it easier for Obama’s fellow Democrats to uphold his veto later without officially changing their positions.

JASTA would remove sovereign immunity, preventing lawsuits against governments, for countries found to be involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It also would allow survivors, and relatives of those killed in them to seek damages from other countries.

In this case, it would allow suits to proceed in federal court in New York as lawyers try to prove that the Saudis were involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Backers say passage is long overdue. They argue that if Saudi Arabia, or any other government, is innocent of involvement in attacks, they have nothing to fear from the legislation.

A member of the French parliament, Pierre Lellouche, said he would consider such legislation in France, and would anticipate it elsewhere, if the final version of JASTA does not include waivers for countries that are U.S. allies and actively involved in fighting terrorism.

“It may trigger similar acts all over the place, and then you enter into a ‘state of jungle’ where everybody sues everybody,” Lellouche, who runs a parliamentary committee on international law, told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Grant McCool and Will Dunham)