Sunday, September 11, 2011

Anniversary of 9/11

Do you remember where you were on this day 10 years ago?  I do, vividly.

I was beginning my senior year at Meredith College.  I was sitting in the dining hall with some friend - Rynn, Charity, and a few others - having breakfast in Belk Dining Hall.  I was sitting there, having a nice conversation with some girlfriends, when the news spread across the TV that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  

We were all stunned.  As we all left for our respective classes, we wondered what caused this terrible accident.  Later, we discovered, that it wasn't an accident.  It was a terrible, horrible tragedy that would rock our nation to the core.  Not only was the World Trade Center hit, the Pentagon was struck, and another airplane went down in Pennsylvania.  Four planes...Set out to hurt...    

Everything for the rest of the day was a blur.  I remember getting out of class and sitting in front of the TV, unable to concentrate on my schoolwork.  Sometimes we would try to talk, but most of the time it was just silence and fright while watching the TV.  

It has been 10 years since that horrible day in US history and I remember it as though it was yesterday.  Even now, everything that went through my mind that day (fear, disbelief, etc.) is still very vivid.  

Today, I will remember:
  • The first responders 
  • The people that were killed, injured, or lost a loved one
  • The soldiers and contractors that have been in/to Iraq and Afghanistan
  • The response of our country to this horrible event and how we are stronger as a nation because of it
  • That every day we are given is a gift
My boss sent this out via email on Friday afternoon and I thought it was appropriate to share:
"All of us remember that horrible and tragic day, September 11, 2001. In many ways, it is hard to believe that Sunday is the 10th anniversary. In other ways, it seems that so much has happened, and so much has changed, that surely it must have happened long ago.

It is hard to know what to say about this anniversary. Certainly we all need to take time to remember those who lost their lives that day, and their families. Some of the victims were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether on an airplane, working in a tall building, or elsewhere. Others were public servants, first responders who were trying to do their job and help others, and got caught in something larger than they could have understood fully. Just as certainly we need to remember the members of our armed forces who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, and their families. Those who sent them in harm’s way, right or wrong, believed that doing so would make us safer. We have asked too much of our military service members and their families over these years.

What have we learned? Whether we have truly learned it or not, one lesson is that hatred, one motivating force of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, never solves anything. We have sought and partially achieved vengeance, which some certainly deserved, but we cannot let ourselves be drawn down into corrosive and self-destructive hatred.

Our leaders might have taken us down some wrong paths, although we have not completely lost our way. But some of those choices, combined with other decisions, have depleted our national treasury, which brings us a host of problems into the future. We need to work harder at being peacemakers, particularly in the Middle East. The “Arab spring” has brought great possibilities, but great challenges, and there are some other growing problems, like Iran.

Certainly our country has changed over the course of these 10 years, and not entirely for the better. It is more difficult and time consuming to get through airport security, and some other security measures might be overly intrusive and unjust to some. We are more divided, although that cannot be attributed solely to differences of opinion about the war on terror. We are more distrustful, and maybe fearful, of others who are different. We tend to forget that many who were different came here from other places and helped build this country, including many who were brought here forcibly against their will. We also forget that we will need the skills and contributions of immigrants in the future.

I believe we need to come back together, and focus more on the things that unite us and make us stronger for the long term, rather than the things that divide us. The United States of America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth and the most desirable place to live, although clearly we have some problems to fix. I believe we need to focus on the things that made this country great, and can make it greater, including: better education for all; innovation, including adequate public and private spending on research and development; strong, productive, modern public infrastructure; respect for all of our fellow Americans and willingness to help those who most need help, with less complaining; and keep our military and intelligence capabilities strong, remembering the lessons of history and knowing that we will need them again, but with a more enlightened and hardnosed policy about our true national security interests, and with a vow that we will not send the troops again unless there is a general national consensus about the need and a willingness to pay the financial costs.

I believe we need a renewed commitment to lift ourselves out of these economic doldrums and make this country even greater. That would disappoint and finish defeating those who want to do us harm, and build a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Take a few moments on Sunday amidst the news coverage and reflect quietly, and be thankful for our many blessings."

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