An Incredible Coincidence or Divine Intervention?

There have been many dark days in the history of the United States, with one of the worst being the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The four coordinated Islamist suicide terrorist missions killed nearly 3,000 people and injured thousands of others. The attacks forever changed how American leaders shaped and implemented security procedures in all areas of the country going forward. 

In deep southern Illinois in the Franklin County city of Benton, an unbelievable story emerged just two days after the attacks. As described in a story written by Jim Muir and originally published in the Southern Illinoisan, a series of unexplainable events unfolded after Benton High School Athletic Director Don Smith contacted local businessman Dave Severin. Smith was seeking 40 small flags to place at the school’s football field as a patriotic gesture for Friday night’s football game.

However, in the aftermath of the attacks, most businesses were sold out of flags and finding them would be very difficult. Severin sold flags at his store, All Stars n’ Stitches, on the Benton square. He was also out of flags and had been trying to locate some. About a half hour after Smith’s phone call, Severin got a call from his mother, Edna, who asked him if he was looking for flags.

Edna told her son she had 40 flags, which she uncovered after going through her late husband’s belongings. The Rev. George Severin had passed away two months previous, and he had 40 unwrapped flags in his collection. Upon seeing the flags, Dave Severin noticed by looking at the sales ticket the flags had been purchased more than 30 years prior.

Now the story develops even more layers, as Severin discovered that the flags were shipped from New York City on September 11, 1970, exactly 31 years to the day of the terrorist attacks.

“Totally unbelievable,” Dave Severin was quoted as saying. “When I saw the date and where the flags were shipped from, I couldn’t believe it. What’s the chances?” Severin, of course, now serves his local communities in the Illinois House, where has been a state representative since 2017.

And to cap things off, the flags were shipped to the house where George and Edna lived in 1970, and that address was 337 South Main Street in Benton. The person who subsequently lived in that very house on September 13, 2001? Well, that’s the person who made the original phone call seeking 40 flags – Benton Athletic Director Don Smith.

Not only were all of these incredible dots able to be connected, but the exact number of flags requested matched those that were uncovered at the Severin house. Was this remarkable story an incredible coincidence, divine intervention, or just a neat footnote in history in what was one of the worst weeks Americans have ever seen?

The Caucus Blog asked Rep. Severin what he thinks the answer is.

“I am a firm believer in God’s plan, and I believe He works in mysterious and magnificent ways,” Severin stated. “For a small town in Southern Illinois that was trying to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks and show pride in America to be home to this unique and mystifying story, I can’t believe it was just a coincidence.”