8:15 a.m. The sun glinted off the circular stainless-steel band that was the primary element of Arizona’s 9/11 Memorial, situated in the park directly in front of the Capitol. Then, a brilliant instantaneous flash, appearing as a second sun, superheating the air around it. The fireball travelled outward at unimaginable speed, incinerating almost everything in its path. Less than ten miles away, the windows at the Hall of Flame Fire Museum and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes shook violently as the blastwave hit them and the intense light reflected off their tinted glass.
The first new reports began to appear only minutes later on Fox and CNN, soon followed by footage from local stations showing the specter of nuclear terror realized, a mushroom cloud towering over a major American city.
The nation, the world, was in a state of complete shock, far beyond anything experienced on 9/11. Some screamed in fear for loved ones in Phoenix, many sat stupefied staring at their televisions, repeating “Oh my God” again and again. Parents shouted at children to leave the room or clutched them close to comfort them.
Those living in towns surrounding Phoenix could look out their windows and see the massive pillar of smoke rising into the sky. Many were awestruck, unable to move; others, realizing the danger they were in, rushed to their basements or began packing frantically.
There was no hope for those at ground zero … in the surrounding blast zones, the horror was unspeakable: the suffocating heat, the smoke-filled air; the screams of the injured, the moans of the dying. Those nearest the blast who had survived and managed to make their way out of the burning buildings couldn’t get their bearings—all familiar landmarks had disappeared. They wandered aimlessly in a choking sea of smoke, a literal hell on earth.
Who would do this to America, on Christmas Day?
A Christmas to Forget
s the morning wore on, many couldn’t pull themselves away from the non-stop coverage of the disaster, while others were forced by emotional fatigue to turn away.
When news anchors first began breaking in with other news alerts, many of those glued to their televisions initially thought, What the hell could be important enough to interrupt this for? But it quickly became clear that although this was the biggest story of the day, it was not the only major breaking news that morning.
More attacks, not nuclear, thankfully, but clearly related, clearly part of a pattern—a truly global new 9/11. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem—the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection—destroyed by a massive blast. Reports from the Vatican in Rome of an assassination attempt on the Pope.
It was becoming obvious to many that the terrible events of that morning were something new altogether—not simply a new 9/11 or a Mega-9/11, not simply a nuclear terrorist attack or a globally-coordinated attack—but a worldwide assault on Christendom itself. An attack on the United States and Israel, the Muslims’ “Great Satan” and “Little Satan,” as well as on the head of the Catholic church, God’s representative on earth to the faithful…an attack on one of Christianity’s holiest sites, on the most holy day of the year … this was clearly the launch of an all-out Islamic jihad against Christianity.
This was no “New Pearl Harbor,” as 9/11 had come to be known—this was the American Hiroshima, an American holocaust, and there would be hell to pay. Iraq? Afghanistan? These would look like humanitarian missions compared to the New Crusades that were sure to follow.
The celebration of the birth of Christ had been brought to an abrupt halt that morning, the holiday seemingly forever marred by the carnage. The day of the Savior’s birth had in an instant been transformed into a day of death—Black Christmas. The long nightmare was just beginning … and, as on 9/11, all was going according to plan, but not the plans of Muslim extremists.