William Richardson

Pastor William Richardson of First Community Baptist Church

It’s a memory seared into our brains. The News of Orange County reached out to several current leaders in community services that were most affected by the events of 9/11/01, to get their thoughts on that tragic day, what it has meant to their careers, and what they feel looking back. 

William Richardson

Pastor at First Community Baptist Church

What were you doing on Sept. 11, 2001? I was making preparation on that terrible day to attend a ministers Council, and my wife called me and she said, “Stop what you’re doing and come watch TV.” I went where she was sitting to look at TV, and I couldn’t figure out, you know what the problem is, when I say, “Oh what did this? Somebody accidentally flew into a building?” And while I was standing there. Within 15, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, another plane hit. And one of the broadcasters that came on and said, “We’re at war.” I just couldn’t wrap my mind around that. So I just stayed there for a while with my wife to give her reassurance. And we just tried to discuss what was going on what was really happening. And, and then the, the stations. They just started broadcasting nonstop on every station. We thought about the broadcasts and that particular event. I said, “Oh my god. It appears that the broadcaster is correct. We might be at war.”

What do you remember most about that time? I had a son who was in service, so I was afraid. I didn’t want to lose him to war. I was also concerned about how my congregation was doing. I had a couple of calls asking how I felt about what happened. To some, it was beyond comprehension to see people dying such a horrific death. Some people felt helpless, seeing people die. They only thing they could do was worship and pray. On that Sunday after the attacks, we had more people than normal come to the congregation. Some were just coming in to fellowship. They needed some questions to be answered, and to have some way for expression and compassion. That Sunday, I preached from the gospel “Suddenly,” the gospel that talks about death will come unexpected. Suddenly. You have to be prepared for death. Folks seemed to find strength in that, because they came back the following week.

Did the events of 9/11/01 have any affect on your career path? It heightened my awareness of making adequate preparation. Not only in the church, but every aspect of my being. Because you don’t know the minute or the hour that something is going to happen. 

Twenty years later, what do you think about now when you look back on that day? We sometimes gloss over and talk about what was a pseudo kind of supportive government, but it did not come to the rescue of those 9/11 responders who put their lives on the line, and now they have all these health issues. The government would not give t hem adequate health insurance. Those people have families and goals and their futures. The first responders had to go to Congress and beg for benefits. I think it’s a shame. It’s a shame.