warning: post includes a little bit of cheese
it’s 9/11. 12 years ago i was a junior in high school (holy hannah i am old). everyone talks about how they remember exactly where they were when they heard about the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. i do. i was sitting in my physics class, most likely stewing over how often i epically failed in physics. the bell had rung and we were all packing up when my teacher, mr. sullivan, turned on the tv. i vaguely remember not fully understanding what was happening. i mean, i had to get to my next class before the next bell rang – no one wants a tardy. but by the time i got to my American Experience class that afternoon (don’t ask), we were all aware of what was happening on the East Coast. we didn’t have class the rest of the day and all i can really remember is sitting on the floor of the classroom with some friends, not really sure what to do.
i don’t think anyone fully understood the implications of what happened. even now, there are so many things that have changed as a result of 9/11. but it’s crazy to think that 12 years ago, our nation was struck by a tragedy that resulted in thousands of lives lost on American soil.
it’s a hard thing, remembering
i’m the kind of person who will cry if i think too long and too hard about things that are wrong with this world. thinking about human trafficking across the globe, or the devaluing of human life in Burma… the more i think about it, the more confused i become as to why people do horrible things to other people, and then the more sad i become when i realize how much needs to be done to even spark a change.
so, i tend to not think too hard about things. granted, i actually spend a lot of time reading and learning about those issues, especially since i work with some organizations that fight for human rights. but given my extremely sympathetic nature, i don’t sit and ponder how the victims feel or how their lives are so different solely because of their circumstances.
today is no exception. today was an explosion on facebook and instagram of “remember 9/11” images and stories of survivors, and reminders of how America rebuilt the WTC. there were articles and posts online of people remember the emergency responders who lost their lives trying to save the people trapped in the towers and images honoring those who survived. heroes.
but the more i think about it, the more teary i get thinking about wives who learned their husbands were never coming home. or husbands whose wives were killed. kids who didn’t fully grasp the fact that they would never see their mom or dad again. the pilots and passengers in the hijacked planes who at some point while they were still in the air realized that they were not going to make it home. the employees who were trapped in the towers and were faced with either certain death if they stayed, or almost certain death if they tried to jump to safety. the helpless feeling that they had when they realized there was nothing they could do.
it’s hard remembering.
and that’s okay. it’s so important to remember (which is why the slogan is “remember 9/11” and “we will never forget”). remembering things brings hope for the future. because we learn and grow. because legacies live on. because even though in the midst of horrific humanity, there are stories of heroes and rescues. it’s proof that even in a seemingly dark and depressing world, people will still band together for each other and persevere through some incredibly challenging times.
i made the mistake of opening “a decade of hope” at a bookstore (the mistake being that i should have known i would start crying in the middle of the aisle) and reading some of the stories and interviews with survivors of 9/11 and family members of people who died that day. heart wrenching yet heart warming at the same time (i’m not trying to sell the book, i swear. but it’s an amazing book). we need to remember the stories of triumph and hope too.
humans are interesting creatures aren’t they? especially when it comes to love.
“better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”
i used to think that whoever came up with that saying (it was alfred lord tennyson, btw) was stupid. losing a loved one sucks. how many of us have thought that it would have been way better to not have loved at all then to have our hearts broken? i have. you can admit it too. but despite the high cost of love, we keep on loving, searching for love, and holding on to love. when you find it, you treasure it.
i feel like i’ve sort of digressed from where i originally started with this post. ultimately, today is a day of remembering not just the tragedy but the hope that grew from it. it’s also a day where you really should tell your family you love them, give your loved ones an extra long hug, and treasure each moment because you don’t know when life as you know it will change.