As my alarm went off this morning I woke with the same unsettling feeling as I do every September 11th. Getting out of bed took a little longer than usual as I reckoned with the internal struggle of enveloping myself into a full day of heart wrenching news and social media coverage for the anniversary of a day…..a few hours that would change the course of our country, the world, and history forever. I turned my tv to the news for the first time in over a year and was immediately gripped to the edge of my seat as if 9/11 was happening all over again, still feeling as if I am watching a re-occurring bad dream, one that began as I sat in my 6th grade pre-algebra class. As the day and coverage continued my heart and soul were filled with countless stories of hope, sadness, courage, sacrifice, and extreme inspiration.
I regret to admit that my underlying disappointment grew as well though. It grew at my inability and frustration to understand why anyone would even want to post anything politically charged on the anniversary of a day when 2,977 people died. I understand that politics are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. I understand that the issues involving terrorism are complex to the point of being incomprehensible. I understand that political decisions, good or bad, always have consequences and almost always present a side to take. And, it is some people’s job to report and analyze those decisions. But what I cannot understand is a personal agenda being put before the reverence of today or someone’s feelings.
We are an incredible and resilient country. Not because of our technologies, our military, our economy or our influence in the world. We are who we are because of the struggles we have shared together as fellow human beings. On September 11, 2001 no one cared about race, religion, ethnicity or political preference. We cared about our fellow human beings who were faced with the decision of jumping from 100 floors up because the heat from the fire at their backs was too much to bear. We cared about those on Flight 93 who courageously took down their own plane into the fields of Pennsylvania, so that others may live. We cared about those who didn’t know they were about to take their last breath on this Earth as they walked the halls and sat behind their desks in the Pentagon. We cared about the ones who selflessly charged into the thick clouds of dust, leaving their families and loved ones behind forever in hopes of rescuing complete strangers.
This message is not intended to preach or point fingers. I am so thankful we continue to remember and honor our fallen and never forget our heroes from 9/11. We are still so unbreakably strong and united, I just want to remind you of the big picture and who we are to each other as people and Americans. As this day and anniversary comes to an end and the days pass until next September 11th continue to reflect. Reflect on who you are as a person, who you want to become and the value of people to you. Try to have a conversation and give a hug before keeping a closed mind or expressing a hateful comment. Try to put yourself in the shoes of others before passing judgement. Offer a hand of help before a turned shoulder and remember, behind every smile is a person who is struggling, and we are all just a moment away from needing each other.
Photos: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael C. Guinto