When 9/11 Became More Than a News Story

When 9/11 Became More Than a News Story
Written by Maria Hatch

There are just some things in life you never forget like your first crush, your first love, your first heartbreak, and You. I’ll never forget You, your name, the impact you had on my life. I never got to meet you, but I thought that’s why I was first introduced to you, to meet you.

I was in training to go on one of my first missions trip in middle school. We were heading to do some volunteer work in New York. It was shortly after 9/11 that the trip was to take place. I remember being handed a slip of paper with your name on it at one of our training sessions. We weren’t given much information only to pray for your family, so I did. I prayed for you, prayed for your family, your kids (if you had any), and what you may be experiencing in life. I figured if I was asked to pray for you, there must be a reason. I prayed thinking you must be one of the people we were going to help serve. I didn’t know you but I spent a lot of time in prayer for you. I kept that slip with your name on it close as a reminder to continue to pray. 

We arrived in New York that summer. The week was spent helping and serving (much like you would imagine a missions trip). I began to wonder where you were and if I was going to get to meet you. We were now half way into the week and you still weren’t there. Our pastor never said anything about you. I began to wonder if maybe he forgot about you, forgot that he passed out that slip with your name on it? When I was first handed that slip with your name on it, you were just a name but now you were somebody to me, somebody I spent time praying for, and I wanted to meet you, gosh darn it. The end of the week came and no you. I was beginning to wonder if you existed. Maybe this was our pastor trying to teach us a lesson on praying and you weren’t even real, I thought.

On the last day of our missions trip, we got to tour the city. We found ourselves at the Twin Towers site. It was a devastating mess. As young as I was, I’ll never forget the impact the damage had on me. Real people lost their lives, I knew it but now I was seeing it. It caused my heart to physically hurt. I was young and resilient, though, and able to distance myself from the pain until I finally got to meet you. Our pastor encouraged us to go look at the names on the plaque and find the person’s name we were praying for. 


I found it! There you were, Harry Raines! My excitement was soon quieted when I realized why these names were on this plaque. I’m not able to distance myself from this pain anymore when I realized you died. You didn’t just die, you were killed. I began to stare and everything around me seemed to go black and it was just me and that name: Harry Raines. Tears begin to stream down my face as I think, “This is not how I wanted to meet you, Harry. I thought you were alive.” I came back to reality for a second in hopes that someone was going to tell me the man I’d been praying for months wasn’t really killed. Instead, I was met with more tears, more pain and the reality that you are really gone. Suddenly, 9/11 became more than a news story. My mind was flooded with thoughts of your family and their pain. You were no longer a name on a slip of paper but a dad, husband, son, brother, friend, people who loved you had to hear the words, “Harry died.”

Harry Raines, every year on September 11 my first and last thought is you and your family. Ever since that year, not a September 11 goes by that I don’t pray for your family. Since losing my parents in a plane crash, my prayers have become more intentional. I never met you, but you have impacted (and continue to impact) my life.

About the author

Maria Hatch

My name is Maria. I’m a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, and excessive hair twirler. I’ve known the depths of grief and the height of God’s love and some time in there fell in love with Him, and I love to talk about it. On June 24, 2011, my life was forever altered and I’ve never been the same since. I invite you into my journey through my writings. Find my website at


  • Maria, you are pulling at my heart strings! What a beautiful post in memory of those lost. I can still remember 9/11 like it was yesterday and the emotions came flooding back reading this. May your dear friends memory live on.

  • Love this Maria! It is such a tribute to this man and his family that you prayed so hard for him and his memory still lives on! He has clearly made an impact on your life <3

  • I teared up reading this. Praying for an actual person who died during this tragedy would have made me feel even more connected to the situation. Of course when I saw this on the news, I cried. But, feeling connected with a person that was there, knowing an actual name, and praying for them daily, would have made the connection to it deeper.

  • Maria, this made me cry! And my goodness, it must hit close to home for you every year too, having lost your parents in a plane crash too, you are one strong gal. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story, we really can never forget.

  • Oh man. I worked for a health insurance company that serviced New York in 2001. I have never forgotten talking to those families who called and their accounts were flagged as they suffered their injury during the terror attacks. I pray for their families that they will find comfort.

  • Beautiful piece, Maria. Everything you write is always a reminder to me of what’s truly important. Sending so much love to you. <3

  • What an amazing story. I was in New York earlier that year and will never forget how I felt when I learned about the attacks. This was beautifully written.

  • Oh my goodness thats a beautiful story. I went to New York shortly after the attacks as well and then moved there years later. I’ll never forget what that part of the city looked like, how quiet it was. The flowers, the memorials, the church. I love that you’re still praying for his family. I think you should look them up!

  • This is beautiful. I think that it’s so easy to distance ourselves from tragedy when there is not a personal aspect to it. I find this so beautiful that it became personal to you, and every year it is still so personal.

  • This is so touching. I’m so sorry for the loss of your parents and also that you were never able to meet Harry. 9/11 was a devastating day for our country and one I know I will never forget. Hugs to you!
    xoxo, erin |

  • Hi Maria~ As a New Yorker, I can tell you how much those prayers mean then and now. We lived a couple of hours from the city, but our lives were forever impacted as well when two of our friends died on 9/11. It has changed me forever knowing what I was watching on TV and grasping the horrible reality of hate which filled the skies that day. I choose to forgive because I will not be a victim of their hate or allow it to eat away at me like a cancer. I choose to live with the memories of the love and laughter and continue to be a support to their families. I am so sorry to hear about the tragic loss of your parents and I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but I can tell they raised an amazing woman with a heart of love and compassion. You truly have expressed and touched my heart today. Oh and I am a hair twirler too 🙂

  • Very touching. I remember where I was that day too. I remember where I was on the day of the Murrah Building Bombing too.