Miracles Among Mayhem: Local couple welcomes twins on America's darkest day

Josh Briggs
Staff Writer

It was a cool Tuesday morning. Not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining blindingly bright.
It was a normal weekday across much of the U.S.
That was until terrorists wreaked havoc on the nation.
What seemed like a bad dream with the possibility of a twin-engine crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers quickly turned into America's greatest nightmare when two commercial airliners hit their targets and another went down due to heroes aboard Flight 93.
In Benton, the day was perfectly normal for most of the morning for one couple.
"It was a normal day," said Shannon Sadler. "I had taken my 9-year-old to Caldwell (Elementary) that morning and Marty (her husband) went to work."
Shannon was 36 weeks pregnant with twin sons at the time.
"I came back home and usually I turn the TV on, but I didn't that day for some reason," Shannon added. "I was in Blaine's room when Marty called and asked if I had the TV on. I just sat down in Blaine's room and watched it for hours."
Shannon had a doctor's appointment planned later in the day. After attending all of the previous appointments alongside his wife, Marty told Shannon he likely wouldn't be at this one.
"He said he wouldn't make it home because he works at Falcon Jet (in Little Rock)," Shannon said.
Though 36 weeks along, Shannon said she didn't feel as if she was going to be giving birth that Tuesday.
"I was backing out of the driveway when he pulled in," Shannon said. "He went with me. The news was on at the doctor's office and we watched it. We went back for my appointment and the doctor checked me and said I was in labor.
"We didn't have time to go home or anything else. Once we got checked in โ€” around 4 o'clock โ€” I did realize I was in labor. I think with everything going on I didn't feel anything. It was like a numbing feeling watching everything happen."
Despite with the stress of what was happening in New York, which had a trickle-down effect across the nation, Shannon gave birth to two healthy sons, Jon and Kane.
"The first one was born at 8:33 and the second one came 14 minutes later at 8:47," she added.
For Marty, his day was chaotic as he was working near Little Rock International Airport (Bill and Hillary Clinton International Airport).
"It was so unusual," Marty said. "I had a busy day planned. I got to work and my buddy said, 'A plane just hit the World Trade Center.' I was thinking a small commuter plane, but then it was the horrible, crazy event it became later on that day."
Once the events of 9/11 continued to erupt, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all planes to land immediately.
"At Adam's Field at the airport they had all of these planes everywhere, just parked all around the facility," Marty said. "Wherever they could put a plane they were sticking a plane."
Marty said he told his boss that he wasn't planning on attending his wife's appointment.
"He told me there was no use in staying at work," Marty said. "He said, 'there won't be any work being done around here today, I can guarantee that.'"
Marty said he believes watching events play out on TV is what sent Shannon into labor.
"It was an indescribable feeling to know what's going on and to know you have babies to soon be here," Marty said. "To know you have a 9-year-old and now twins and what kind of crazy world are we brining these children into? How evil can this world get?
"The unimaginable happened and then it kept happening."
Marty added that after his sons were born, it was the "perfectness in an imperfect world" that helped calm the day.
"Even now, after all these years, it is hard to put into words that feeling of how many lives were affected that day and how many people are still affected by that day," Marty said. "It restored some faith. It was a happy day for us."
The Sadlers said that while the unfortunate events of 9/11 happened to take place the same day as the birth of their two sons, the two events have always been separate in their household.
"You can't help but contrast the two," Marty said. "You see the miracle of God and you see the evil in its most heinous form."
Shannon said she has never wished the boys weren't born on 9/11.
"It was a very dark day, but they were such a bright light for that day," Shannon said.
Now, 17 years later, the boys have grown into young men, attending their junior year of high school at Benton.
While never really speaking of the events of 9/11, Jon surprised his parents Monday with his thoughts.
"My whole life I've been taught that it was a horrible day in history and that it changed the world. Yet, I'm told to celebrate on that day because it's my birthday," Jon said. "How can I do that? How can I eat cake and ice cream with my friends knowing so many people died? It makes me not want to celebrate my birthday. Rather, it makes me think โ€” what can I do today that makes the world better?"
Shannon said she believes 9/11 was a good day for her children to be born.
"That was exactly when they were supposed to come," Shannon said. "I think it was a part of the perfect plan for our family, for our little town and for our friends. On 9/11 every year the first thing I start getting are texts from family and friends. I hear from people that they can't wait to wish the boys a happy birthday. They say that, 'Before I think back about all the bad things that happened, I think about this good thing that happened.'"
Shannon said that for their family, no one will ever forget 9/11, but the birth of Jon and Kane made it such a "good day."
"The day ended," Shannon said. "It brought such happiness to our family."
The Sunday following 9/11, the Sadlers' pastor at Salem United Methodist Church in Benton ended his sermon by speaking of the terrible events of 9/11, but capped by discussing God's gift of the Sadlers' twins.