When I was younger, I remember thinking of the Pentagon as a somewhat mysterious military facility, protected by the best defense systems our armed forces had to offer. I had heard that no aircraft was permitted to fly over the Pentagon, and I was sure that any hostile aircraft that attempted to do so would surely be shot down before it had a chance to attack, if that was deemed necessary. And who knew what lie underground?
The Pentagon now has a large hole in its side, after a large plane loaded with innocent people and a full tank of fuel crashed into the southwest wall. People working inside had absolutely no advance warning, and nearly two hundred were killed in the crash and resulting fire, with many more injured - not to mention everyone aboard the plane.
I watched on television as someone from the defense department made the comment that “the Pentagon is not a fortress.” It's really just a large office building. My childhood notions of its security were obviously off base. The section that was hit had just been renovated and reinforced, and the building as a whole withstood the attack fairly well, but I'm sure that's not much comfort to the families of those killed inside.
A few days later, President Bush and other present and former leaders of our nation attended a televised church service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. One of the hymns they sang was “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Coincidentally, I had begun arranging this piece for handbell choir just the previous weekend (mostly just to see if I could do it; I've never written for handbells before). I couldn't help but be reminded of my misplaced childhood trust in the defense capabilities of the Pentagon, and be thankful that even in this time of need, we have someone much more reliable to put our faith and trust in.