Editor's note: This article was originally published last year, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. As we again reflect on the events of that tragic day, we would like to remind our readers of these messages of comfort from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On Sept. 11, 2001, countless lives were forever changed when terrorists hijacked and crashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. Thousands of lives were snuffed out in an instant — passengers and crews on four planes, people in buildings that three of those planes crashed into, rescue workers and others who rushed to their aid and bystanders at the scenes. Within hours of these tragic events, Mormon church leaders responded with a statement that read:
“In this hour of sorrow, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses profound sympathy to those whose loved ones, friends and associates were lost or injured in today’s senseless acts of violence. We offer our prayers in behalf of the innocent victims of these vicious attacks. We ask Heavenly Father to guide President Bush and his advisors as they respond to these devastating incidents. We join with others in prayers that the Savior’s peace and love will comfort and guide us all through this difficult time. The resources of the Church will be made available to any relief agencies requesting assistance.”
That statement became the first of many reassuring messages offered by LDS Church leaders. One decade later, their messages still deliver peace and comfort to the hearts of many people today. Here are some of those messages:
President Gordon B. Hinckley, from an address given on Sept. 11, 2001, in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
“Dark as is this hour, there is shining through the heavy overcast of fear and anger the solemn and wonderful image of the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, the exemplar of universal love, and it is to him that we look in these circumstances. It was he who gave his life that all might enjoy eternal life. ... May the peace of Christ rest upon us and give us comfort and reassurance and, particularly, we plead that he will comfort the hearts of all who mourn.”
President Hinckley, October 2001 general conference address:
“Members of the church in this and other nations are now involved with many others in a great international undertaking. Unitedly, as a church, we must get on our knees and invoke the powers of the Almighty in behalf of those who will carry the burdens of this campaign.
“We have been counseled again and again concerning self-reliance, concerning debt, concerning thrift. As we have been counseled for more than 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time of need. But let us not panic or go to extremes. Let us be prudent in every respect. And, above all, my brothers and sisters, let us move forward with faith in the Living God and his Beloved Son.
“Peace may be denied for a season. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to him. Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes from 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' (Psalms 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.”
President Hinckley, statement given on Sept. 11, 2002:
"Today, the world remembers the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. We are still shocked and dismayed at the infamy of those cowardly attacks.
"During the past year, we have come to know the heroic acts of men and women whose courage and selflessness were manifest on that terrible day. So many lost their lives. So many friends and families have been deprived of dear ones. Today we pause to remember and join in tribute to those whose lives were taken and to those who have carried on so bravely in their absence.
"We know that much good has come of these dreadful circumstances. From the smoke and ashes of New York, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and other areas of the world has arisen a greater sense of unity and purpose in ridding the earth of evil and providing for the freedom and security of all people. We endorse the righteous efforts of God-fearing people everywhere in this important endeavor.
"May our Father in Heaven smile upon us all, comfort those who continue to mourn and guide the leaders of nations in the quest for justice and liberty is our sincere prayer."
Remarks by President James E. Faust, then the second counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, then first counselor in the First Presidency, given at a memorial service in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Sept. 11, 2002.
"These ignoble acts of terrorism reawakened in all of us an appreciation for our blessed land. Out of this disaster have come hundreds of stories of courageous acts of unselfishness and heroism. Ours is the most favored nation ever established on this planet. Its bounty is endless. The opportunities it affords to us are immeasurable. We as its citizens are among the most favored of any of God's children ever to live under any government on the earth. This is still true despite our country's many challenges and difficulties. With all of these favored circumstances come the responsibilities and duties of citizenship.
"We should be participants, not merely bystanders, in the processes of democracy to 'preserve us as a nation.'
"Institutions of government and those officers and magistrates elected or appointed need our loyal support in order to secure for us the continuing cornucopia of blessings that come from the freedoms available in this country. God Almighty established this land. He raised up giants among men as our founding fathers. They acted for us 'the people' who were and who remain sovereign. The motto stamped on our coins, 'In God We Trust,' must also be stamped in our hearts and minds."
(Quoting from Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address) "May that infinite power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to do what is best and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.
“May he who is the divine Comforter sustain and bring solace to all of us."
"Well remembered are the acts of bravery of those who did their best to save others and those who gave their lives in this heroic effort. In one of our beloved hymns are the comforting words, 'In my Gethsemane, Savior and friend, constant He is and kind, love without end.' (Hymns No. 129)."
President Faust, given in October 2002 general conference address:
"On Sept. 11, 2001, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were hit by terrorist-controlled airliners that caused both towers to collapse. Thousands of people were killed. Out of this tragedy have come hundreds of stories of courageous, unselfish acts. One very poignant and heroic account is the Washington Post’s story of retired Army Colonel Cyril 'Rick' Rescorla, who was working as vice president for corporate security of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
"Rick was a very experienced ex-military combat leader. He was in his office when 'the first plane struck the North Tower at 8:48 a.m. He took a call from the 71st floor reporting the fireball in One World Trade Center, and he immediately ordered an evacuation of all 2,700 employees in Building Two,' as well as 1,000 more in Building Five. Using his bullhorn, he moved up the floors, working through a bottleneck on the 44th and going as high as the 72nd, helping to evacuate the people from each floor. One friend who saw Rick reassuring people in the 10th-floor stairwell told him, 'Rick, you’ve got to get out, too.'
“'As soon as I make sure everyone else is out,' he replied.
“He was not rattled at all. He was putting the lives of his colleagues ahead of his own. He called headquarters to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.
"His wife had watched the United Airlines jet go through his tower. After awhile, her phone rang. It was Rick.
“ ‘I don’t want you to cry,’ he said. ‘I have to evacuate my people now.’
“She kept sobbing.
“ ‘If something happens to me, I want you to know that you made my life.’
“'The phone went dead.' Rick did not make it out.
“Morgan Stanley lost only six of its 2,700 employees in the South Tower on Sept. 11, an isolated miracle amid the carnage. And company officials say Rescorla deserves most of the credit. He drew up the evacuation plan. He hustled his colleagues to safety. And then he apparently went back into the inferno to search for stragglers. He was the last man out of the South Tower after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and no one seems to doubt that he would’ve been again if the skyscraper hadn’t collapsed on him first.
"Amid the great evil and carnage of Sept. 11, 2001, Rick was not looking for what might be in it for him; instead he was unselfishly thinking about others and the danger they were in. Rick Rescorla was the 'right man in the right place at the right time.' Rick, a 62-year-old mountain of a man, cooly (sacrificed) his life for others. As the Savior himself said, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'
"Most of us don’t demonstrate our unselfishness in such a dramatic way, but for each of us unselfishness can mean being the right person at the right time in the right place to render service. Almost every day brings opportunities to perform unselfish acts for others. Such acts are unlimited and can be as simple as a kind word, a helping hand, or a gracious smile.
"The Savior reminds us, 'He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.' One of life’s paradoxes is that a person who approaches everything with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude may acquire money, property and land, but in the end will lose the fulfillment and the happiness that a person enjoys who shares his talents and gifts generously with others."
President Monson, given in this October 2001 general conference address titled "Now is the Time":
"All of us have been dramatically affected by the tragic events of that fateful day, Sept. 11, 2001. Suddenly, without warning, devastating destruction left death in its wake and snuffed out the lives of enormous numbers of men, women and children. Evaporated were well-laid plans for pleasant futures. Substituted, therefore, were tears of sorrow and cries of pain from wounded souls.
"Countless are the reports we have heard during the past three and a half weeks of those who were touched in some way — either directly or indirectly — by the events of that day. I should like to share with you the comments of a church member, Rebecca Sindar, who was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Dallas on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11. The flight was interrupted, as were all flights in the air at the time of the tragedies, and the plane grounded in Amarillo, Texas.
"Sister Sindar reports: 'We all left the plane and found televisions in the airport, where we crowded around to see the broadcast of what had happened. People were lined up to call loved ones to assure them we were safely on the ground. I shall always remember the 12 or so missionaries who were on their way to the mission field on our flight. They made phone calls, and then we saw them huddled in a circle in a corner of the airport, kneeling in prayer together. How I wish I could have captured that moment to share with the mothers and fathers of those sweet young men as they saw the need for prayer right away.’ ”
Presiding Bishop H. David Burton, given in his October 2001 general conference address:7 comments on this story
“Out of the deep anguish and turmoil of Sept. 11th have come many instances of men, women and nations standing tall. Foes and friends have come together against a common enemy. Uncommon acts of bravery have become commonplace. Humanitarian response seems to know no bounds. Men and women, regardless of race or creed, have reached out to victims and their families. Countless prayers have been offered. The forces for good are standing tall against the forces of terror and senseless mayhem.
"The life, ministry, and teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ, provide a template for introspective assessment. Jesus Christ is our perfect example of one who always stood tall. He is the one who personifies integrity, strength, and courage.”