Moving Forward While Honoring the Past

I debated whether or not to make a post about today, as I have many things in mind to say regarding its significance, but sometimes words just aren't enough. But, for the sake of others who share my sentiments and hope for the future, I decided to move forward with a post that gathers my thoughts about 9/11.

I want to begin with this picture, posted on numerous websites {so I don't know where to attribute the original version}:

 This was the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV this morning, though it was live, as President Obama and Former President Bush, along with their First Ladies, walked along the memorial at Ground Zero and met with family members of the men and women who were lost on 9/11. This moment captures so perfectly the sense of solidarity that the attack on 9/11 has instilled in Americans {even if we don't always show it}. Two men, so very different in many ways, coming together to honor the people lost at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and United 93. Every year on 9/11 since 2001, Americans stand proud and united in honor and remembrance of the events that happened that day. However, it seems like only a few days pass before the country is back to its divisive ways. Politicians attacking one another instead of standing up for their constituents, people fighting over religious beliefs, sexual preferences and ethnicity. Let's not forget that ninety-three countries were represented within the walls of the World Trade Center towers. It wasn't just Americans who lost something that day — people all over the world lost loved ones that day. Yet for some reason, it only takes a few days for people to forget about everything that the heroes of 9/11 fought for. Now, I realize that's not going to change today, or even tomorrow, but it's important to point out that change begins with a single person. A single act. And maybe someday, somewhere, there will be a ripple effect of respect and unity that this country so desperately needs.

I watched ABC News' special coverage of the memorial service in its entirety this morning, which included footage from ten years ago that's still haunting and terrifying. In between moments at the Ground Zero service that included survivors and family members reading names of the victims, along with a bell that was rung to signify the different points of that day — when the planes crashed, when the towers fell — ABC ran a number of different clips from the past that were significant to the day, along with some clips from new interviews with people ten years later. The one that still gives me chills is the clip of former President George W. Bush in an interview with National Geographic, which I believe is airing tonight. When talking about his thought process when he was told about the first attack, the second attack, and then the attack on the Pentagon, he said,  “I remember thinking the first one was likely an accident, the second one was an attack and the third plane was a declaration of war.” And that it was. It was also a test of our country's perseverance, which has not wavered since then.

Following the coverage of the service this morning, I tuned in to the History channel, which at the time of me writing this post, is airing a program called Countdown to Ground Zero. It's basically rehashing the events of the night before 9/11, and everything that happened that morning, using actors to portray the events, but also interweaving it with words from some of the heroes and survivors themselves, along with actual footage from that day. More than anything, this program puts the focus on everyday people who sacrificed their lives to help others. It really puts it into perspective, to see how heroic "normal" people can be in the time of need. Office managers who ushered their employees out of the building and ultimately sacrificed themselves to do so. An employee who stayed behind to save a trapped stranger, even knowing the building would soon collapse. My thought is this: we don't give ourselves enough credit. We don't give other people enough credit. The man sitting in the cubicle across from you at work, rarely speaking a word to anyone, might be the man saving your life someday. Now, I'm in no way diminishing the heroism of the trained men and women who saved hundreds of people that day. Firefighters, policemen/women, first responders — their acts of courage will always be remembered and honored. But we can't forget the people who were relatively unknown. We can remember those people by showing respect for others no matter who they are or how you know them {or even if you don't know them}. Everyone has it in them to be heroes, so let's treat each other as such. You never know when that "relatively unknown" person might change your life — or save it.

So, with that said, and without dissecting a topic that has been taken apart time and time again, I'll end it with a quote from Jon Stewart {one of my favorite comedians and celebrities}. In his first show after 9/11, which was on 9/20, he gave an emotional response to the events — which can be seen HERE — and best sums it up with this: "The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."

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