I still have a few things to say about Paul’s years as a mailman.  Today’s thoughts are on the serious side.  I’m remembering the fall of 2001, terrorism, and how it affected our lives.

9-11-01: A horrible day in our nation’s history.  Our local newspaper never told why the Appleton post office closed immediately after the attack.  Not only was the post office closed to customers, but everyone who worked there was evacuated and sent home.   Hours before the 9-11 horror took place, two men of Middle Eastern appearance had been spotted outside the back of our post office, where the loading docks are, taking pictures.  An off-duty policeman that happened to be driving by noticed them and thought this was odd, because the building is anything but picturesque.  He stopped to ask what they were doing, and they said they were testing the lighting effects on their camera.  Two weeks previously, the same strange activity had been noted at another post office in a nearby town.  The policeman reported the suspicious activity to the postmaster, and when the airplane attack began, the decision was made to shut down.

Meanwhile, shortly before the 9-11 attack, our future son-in-law had been prompted by the Lord, for no reason that he knew of, to pray for Paul’s safety at the post office.  He obediently prayed and then forgot about it, with all the trauma that happened so soon after.  But when he heard the story about the two men with the camera, he knew why he had been prompted.  To this day, we don’t know what they were up to, or whether anything serious had been planned against the post office, but I do believe that Chris’ prayers may have kept something nasty from happening.  Perhaps his prayers were why the policeman just happened to drive by right then, and perhaps the men were scared off from whatever plans they had had, by having been discovered.

In days to come, another terror activity came into our lives, when deadly anthrax began to travel through the mail system.  Frankly, I was scared.  It didn’t matter that Appleton was not a major metropolis, and that no one would probably think to send anthrax here.  Mail travels hither and thither all over the country, through many postal centers, and there was no guarantee that mail my husband was handling had not come into contact with anthrax-tainted letters.  I pleaded with him to take all the precautions possible, without much success.  The precautions that were available wouldn’t have helped much.  He agreed to wear the little face mask that was provided him, but we’d already been informed the masks were not adequate to prevent inhaling anthrax spores anyway.  The gloves that were provided to protect skin from contamination got in the way of handling mail, so Paul chose not to wear them after the first couple of times.  They wouldn’t have helped either, because if anything had gotten on them, Paul would have gotten it on his hands in the process of taking them off.

It was a hard time to live through.  Christians are not supposed to live in fear.  They are supposed to trust the Lord for every breath of life.  I did not do very well at being fearless during this time.  I didn’t live in constant anxiety about terrorists blowing us up, and I’m sure I was more peaceful than the average American citizen, but the anthrax thing hit a little too close to home.  This was my husband, not somebody else’s.  My pastor helped me at a key moment of anxiety with a few kind, comforting words that meant the world to me.

I am grateful that my husband and the other people at his post office were not harmed.  I am grateful that it’s all only a memory now, not a present-day trouble we are living through.

May God continue to bless America and keep us from ever going through such a trial again.


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