Monday, April 23, 2012

Tragedy or Triumph?

 by Dina Sleiman

On April 6th, 2012 an F 18 fighter jet careened into an apartment complex shortly after takeoff in my hometown of Virginia Beach.

For hours no one knew what to expect. I felt sick to my stomach and sat on pins and needles, like I'm sure everyone else in the area did, as we awaited the body count. Beyond that, as a survivor of bombing attacks in Lebanon, the situation triggered some very real fear for me. And my husband's nonchalant attitude toward the danger of potentially toxic fumes in the atmosphere further upset me and brought back bad memories and physical sensations from the most traumatic incident in my life to date.

But as the day stretched on and the rescue workers doused the flames in the building, to everyone's shock and disbelief, no bodies were found--even though the plane crashed on Good Friday morning when school was off and many people had holidays from work--even though 40 apartments were damaged or destroyed. The pilot and co-pilot were both rescued--despite the fact they waited to eject from the plane until about 2 or 3 seconds before it crashed in hopes of getting it under control and preventing a disaster.

Surely there must be some mistake. Surely by morning they would dig bodies out of the rubble.

And that's where the true extent of the miracle was revealed. An F 18 struck an entire apartment complex and no one, I repeat, NO ONE, died. Even the press called in an Easter miracle. Instead of stories of tragedy unfolding, tales of triumph emerged. The way neighbors worked together to save each other. People out of their homes unexpectedly. Daring rescues of the pilots. Pilots who were too busy worrying about others to give a thought to themselves.

A community at it's very best.

We have all too many stories of tragedy in our world today, so I think this moment of triumph needs to be savored. As it turned out it was a malfunction in the plane, and the apartment community was in a "crash zone" near the naval base. But to think that everyone survived unscathed is incredible. I wonder how many prayers went up that day. If the pilot or co-pilot cried out to God, "Please Lord, don't let me kill anyone today." I wonder how many residents listened to that still, small voice in their hearts and got out of the way just in time.

Back to me. Although my triggered feelings of fear were valid, they were also misplaced. Both in Lebanon and in Virginia Beach. The scripture I've been meditating on recently is "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind." Our illustrious Gina Welborn has a new saying, "Panic is a wasted emotion."

It's so true. 

Can you think of any stories of tragedies turned to triumphs? Do you enjoy stories of tragedies turned to triumph? What fears do you desire to overcome?

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at


  1. I know this has no relevance to the post at all, but here's wishing all you good folks on this blog a Happy St George's Day!

    I know some people associate St George with the Crusades but he goes back to centuries before that, and really represents courage, honour, sacrifice and chivalry.

  2. Good Morning ladies!

    Hi Anna, Is there any traditional celebrations associated with the day? It hasn't seemed to make its way to the US and even the name Geroge is practically off the list, though it was quite popular at one time.

    Dina, that is such an amazing story. I remember the day quite well, but I am still surprised at what an amazing end it had.--and I hadn't even thought about the fact so many people 'should' have been home in their apartments that day.
    Of course it's going to take me all day to think of anything to answer your question.

  3. You know, Deb, usually the kids don't have school off for Good Friday, but they doubled it as an end of the term teacher work day this year.

  4. Anna, I confess I've never heard of it either. I'll have to look into it.

  5. i can't think of any other tragedies turned triumphant other than this one right now. i live about 2 miles from the Base where the jet took off from. i'm very familiar with those jets since the other set of runways at the base send said jets right over our neighborhood. jets so low i could see their heads...

    hubby and son were napping at the time of the jet crash. i was just thankful that the runways headed towards the ocean was being used that day instead of the ones that take the jets over our 'hood. VERY thankful.

    I too, was expecting a body count and was thrilled beyond thrilled when no one was killed. it's nice to be able to concentrate on how to help those left homeless by the event rather than praying for bereaved relatives.

    definitely a blessed miracle!

  6. That's true, Deb. There seems to be some issues with families having places to stay and the Navy helping them out right now. Hopefully that will all be straightened out soon.

  7. Amen that no one was killed. I also live near a military base and used to work at the military hospital and my brother-in-law is an instructor for F-18s. Even though it happened across the country from me, our community felt the fear and hopefulness and said many prayers, too.

    Tragedy to triumph: a few years ago one of our planes crashed in the Olympic National Forest. The pilots were able to eject, but they were missing in a huge and dense forest. Many hours went by as they searched for the pilots. Some of our hospital corpsmen were involved in the search. Late in the afternoon, they were found, thankfully, caught in the treetops with their parachutes. They were injured, but alive.

  8. That's a good one, Suzie.

    You know, I was also thinking about 9-11. Although thousands of people died, and there's no doubt that was tragic, it really should have been tens of thousands.

  9. What a praise that no one was hurt! Amazing story.

  10. You're so right, Dina. It was a horrific tragic attack, and truly could have been on a far greater scale.

  11. Susanne, a few people went to the hospital with injuries, including the pilots, but yes, amazing.

  12. I forgot to Mention that George is the Patron Saint of England (and a few other countries) as well as of Soldiers which is why the flag is his emblem of the Red cross on the White background.

    thers is a Medieval tradition about St George slaying a dragon and rescuing the cumpolsory beasutiful princess, so parades involving people dressing up as knights and Dragons have always been popular, and its just another excuse to have a party.

    The Historical St George is said to have been a Roman soldier who challenged the the Emperor over the persecution of Christians and was tortured for his effortsbut according to legend was resurrected when his persecutors killed him.

  13. That's an amazing miracle!

    Thanks for passing it along, Dina!

  14. Well, I lived on or near air bases for 15 of my 20 military yrs and I can't say how amazed I was at the outcome. It's a miracle plain and simple.

    And oh, the fear that shot through me when I heard the location! That so many people I know live in the area. I'm so grateful for the outcome.

    How can anyone doubt there is a God when something like this happens and goes against such great odds, eh? Really.


Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.