On September 11, 2001, I didn’t lose any friends or family in the World Trade Center, or in the Pentagon, but my entire life and worldview changed, nonetheless. I suspect that is the same for many of you reading this. Now, approaching the 10th anniversary of that horrible day, I feel like we owe it to those that died (that day, and after, defending our freedoms) to remember and reflect. There are days and events that draw a line in history, after which everything is different, and this was obviously one of those days.
Many have written to share their experience of where they were that day, but I’d like you to remember and reflect on where you were in the days following. Americans suddenly had a re-adjustment, a re-prioritizing of their core value system after September 11th. Do you remember how kind, compassionate, and forgiving we all were in the weeks that followed? We knew that the little things were just that, little things…People were patient and understanding, not hostile. It was a changed world, for a little while.
As the days and weeks wore on, though, life returned to what it was before for most of those not directly impacted by the tragedy. That spirit of togetherness and community dissipated like the dust at Ground Zero. If you look around now, things don’t look that different from the way they were before. The culture of “me first” is back in full force.
Is it naive to ask you to reflect on how you treated your fellow man on September 12th? I think that the legacy from this tragedy is the opportunity to return to the Golden Rule, to simply doing the right thing, putting others first. Having patience and remembering what is most important. If September 11th doesn’t remind you every year how very fragile and short life is, you need to stop and consider how many people were just gone in that instant.
Perhaps I’m asking for too much. But I’m willing to try.