It is a bit of an oxymoron to mention “great” and “worst” in the same phrase. It is almost like saying the best loser or strongest weakling. Then again, is this not exactly what we, as a nation, said to the terrorists, the world, and most importantly to each other on that seemingly uneventful Tuesday morning, with nothing but perfect blue September skies on the eleventh day of the ninth month in two-thousand and one, Anno Domini?
I think this is distinctly what I remember us
saying doing: We were struck down but then we immediately STOOD UP! Yes, it is true it was our worst day. But we used that day to show the world just how great we are.
I do not intend for this to be a post that talks about the events that occurred on that fateful day- I believe that we all have an education, if not first hand knowledge, of what happened and how our lives were individually affected by the aftermath. Instead, I’d like to point out that we have not broken our solemn promise to “Never Forget” as we both move forward and respectfully honor the lost.
Who are the lost? They are our family. Yes, we have strangers amongst our family; most of us have never known of their existence or what they were doing at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or on any of those four airliners. We have no idea what their aspirations were, what their mistakes were, or what kind of good deeds they did on a regular basis. They are still our family and we must love them all the same. I know I do. They are strangers, but they are my family- and they have given me the courage to take several life altering steps to bring me to a point where I can share this post with all of you.
I believe that there are two kinds of people in the world: Good and Evil. I am in the Good group, as are the overwhelming majority of you. Our group is connected through some kind of energy that allows us to sympathize, empathize, and respect the other members of our group. Likewise, we try to keep the Evil at bay as best we can- and even when they take a stab at us, we come back even stronger (if, in some cases, just in spite of Evil).
Here are photos and tributes made to some of our family members. All around the Tri-State area we had memory walls and displays for lost and missing family members. Who remembers the “Have you seen me” notes? In this display, can you hear the young, proud firefighter screaming “Remember ME!” with his arms outstretched as they are? Notice how many of the portraits are work related- would they all want their work photos as their lasting memory? Sure, some would, but I think they are sharing a lesson with that:
We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Take lasting portraits of yourself, your family, your children, your pets TODAY!
These professionals were providers and part of the American Dream. The vast majority of those who worked in the World Trade Center were professionals that put forth their best efforts to get there- only to be murdered. Those who went in to the crippled Towers to rescue them were true Heroes who acted selflessly in their efforts. They deserve our respect, and they also deserve to look down upon us from wherever we go in the ever-after and see that we are still strong and appreciative of their efforts and teachings.
The children in Japan who made the Senbazuru above recognized the loss of their family members, even if they could not have the ability to fully comprehend just what happened. Their efforts were so appreciated and they still demonstrate strength and unity more than ten years later. Those children, who by now are probably college graduates and/or career professionals, taught us about being free to share compassion. It is truly an amazing feeling to feel like you are not alone, and they helped to that. Let us not need to be reminded to pay it forward.
Recently, New Jersey completed a beautiful memorial to all the New Jersey-resident victims of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the three airplanes, and the Emergency Responders. The centerpiece
in the foreground is part of the World Trade Center Towers. The monuments fill the void of exactly where the Towers stood in relation to where we are standing in the park. The words “Empty Sky” relate to the fact that the sky that the Towers occupied has been returned to an empty space. On the inside of the monuments, each of the names has been engraved on the wall, which lights beautifully at night in the same way that the streetlights would rise up to the Towers. To the rear left is the new Freedom Tower.
Our family is still with us. Each and every one of them. Each of them took an untimely opportunity to meet every other member of our family that has gone before them. And like in the photograph above, they even find a way to show the rest of us that it is OK- they are still there, and we are not alone.
Again, those victims of the attacks did not ask for any of this. Life was taken from them. I am willing to bet they all would have been just fine with the rest of us never knowing who they are because the most eventful part of September 11, 2001 in each of their lives was what they had for lunch. It was supposed to be a regular workday. It was supposed to be another regular September day in New York where they all took a quick a break outside because of the beautiful weather.
It was supposed to be a day we would all forget.