I get distressed about the state of my world. Days like today only remind me of the depths humanity can sink. Then I remember September 12th.
And the 13th.
I remember the days after, when we learned, all over again, what it meant to be an American. When we started to realize how fragile our freedom is and that nothing is guaranteed. We talked to our neighbors. We volunteered. We spoke softer, cried on a friend’s shoulder and smiled. We would not let our nation be torn apart by terror.
As the son of a firefighter, I can tell you that it’s not just 9-11 that strikes fear in me. That fear is present every day. Living three states away only makes the anxiety worse. I love my father and called him this morning to tell him how proud I was of him. I do it every September 11th. Each year, it gets a little more emotional for me, and for him. It’s never a long conversation.
The older I get, the more reflective I become on what 9-11 means to me. It is the defining event for my generation. I remember that day vividly; where I was, who I was with and what was said. The world that emerged from the smoke and rubble that day is one that is vastly different from the one before it. No longer do we have the ignorance to hide our faces and think the world is a happy place. It is far from happy.
Today, I hope for the same thing I hope for every September 11th. I hope we can speak softer to each other. I hope we can talk to our neighbors and get to know our communities. I hope we can understand the awesome power that comes from being united. We can have our differences. In fact, we must have differences. That doesn’t mean we can’t love and respect each other. Those differences should not keep us from learning about each other.
No rhetoric today. No name calling. No finger pointing.
If we can do that today, on September 11th, then let’s try for September 12th.
And the 13th.