It’s been eight years now. Everyone knows exactly what I’m referring to: the day 911took on a whole new meaning other than the number we dial in America for emergency services. A day none of us around the world will ever forget. “A day that will live in infamy”—as FDR said of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
This attack, sixty years later, was as stunning, as provocative—and as heartbreaking—as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in many ways. Although they both happened on American soil, these events affected us and our allies alike: they made us fighting mad at the senseless injustice that was done; lives of so many snuffed out in an instant. Although the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 was a tragedy with smaller loss of life than the others, it, too, gained world-wide attention.
Recently, one of the masterminds of the Lockerbie hijacking and bombing was released and allowed to go home, to die of his terminal illness. He was met with a hero’s welcome, confetti, cameras and all. I didn’t know anyone who perished in the Lockerbie crash, but I can tell you, watching the circus of that terrorist’s return home, (safely on a plane, I might add), made my blood boil—even after all these years.
What emotions come to us, as humans of reasonable conscience, when a tragedy, such as any of these, occurs? Anger, sadness, loss, and the question, “why?” I don’t pretend to understand the politics and cultural philosophies of some of the countries involved in perpetrating these crimes. They certainly don’t seem to grasp the full extent of their actions. If they did, they’d realize that events such as these only bring the good out in those of us left behind; a banding together, and a determination to survive, in spite of whatever evil they might try to inflict.
Is there anyone who can understand the supposed justification for the motivations that ended in the deaths of nearly three thousand people in those twin towers eight years ago? For those of us who watched in horror and helplessness, the aftermath of these tragedies has ironically brought something decent and good that the terrorists could never have calculated. The willingness to help others, to lend a hand to those in need, to share whatever commodity we possess—whether it be physical, material or emotional—has been magnified one-hundredfold. We have not looked at these events and become mired in the despair that evil has triumphed; we have collectively risen above the action that another human was responsible for—bringing anger, grief and shame in its wake—to the healing of recovery, and becoming collectively better than we were before.
Patriotism runs high after tragedies such as these, being proud of our countries; but it’s a pride that we and others like us have not stooped, and never will, to such acts; nor will we allow those acts to defeat us, and drag us under. After 9/11, we flew flags, proud to be survivors—yet, it our pride stemmed from more than being an American; it came from knowing we were human. The good guys. And we were still here. We had been tested and come through the ‘ordeal by fire’ stronger than before. Our kinship stretched globally with others who shared our disbelief, our horror at what we watched again and again on the news: The planes going into the towers; the plane crashing into the Pentagon, and the plane that a band of heroic passengers kept from completing its intended destructive mission, giving their own lives to defeat that purpose.
Eight years later, most people can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard what had taken place in New York City—no matter where they were living in our world.
Our globe has shrunk in these times. Travel and communications have changed, certainly. But our understanding of what it takes to be an ‘everyday hero,’ even as a person who is ‘only’ an observer of these events, has become stronger and more interconnected along with the ‘shrinking globe.’ Our hatred of injustice has become more universal with the media and communications advancements that bring global events into our living rooms via television or computer—alongside our empathy and love for our fellow man. Events such as these make every person that might endure such tragedy, no matter where they may physically live, a brother. A sister. A hero. One of us—the good guys.
So take a moment today, if you will, to remember not only what happened on September 11, 2001, but all of these tragedies: the victims, the survivors, the heroes, the rest of the world who watched and mourned and got angry…and healed stronger than before, better for it all, in spite of what a group of terrorists tried to do to us.
Fly your country’s flag. Thank a policeman or firefighter for their service. Volunteer your time at something. Help someone, somehow. Remember, no matter how small or insignificant you might think your contribution is, you don’t know what it means to someone else. Be one of the good guys, and know you aren’t alone.
And never forget.
Never, ever forget.
What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment!