Have you forgotten how it felt that day to see your homeland under fire and her people blown away?? Have you forgotten when those towers fell we had neighbors still inside going through a living hell?? Have you forgotten all the people killed, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field?? Have you forgotten about our Pentagon, all the loved ones that we lost, and those left to carry on?? – Darryl Worley
Amongst the plethora of wisdom my father has taught me in this life is the fact that you usually don’t have to look very far to see someone in worse circumstances than you. That’s good advice to keep in mind on those rough days when you’re lonely, not feeling well, or hating yourself for being out of shape, financially deficient, professionally unaccomplished, and any of the myriad ways we tell ourselves we are not good enough & our life is terrible.
I’ve had more of those kind of days in the past year & a half than I care to admit, but you know what?? I am alive, which means that as many regrets as I have (unlike Frank Sinatra there are more than a few) the fact is that I am doing better than the 3000 people that died on September 11, 2001.
My family & I have had twenty Thanksgivings & Christmases together that those individuals never got to celebrate. I have enjoyed twenty warm & beautiful summers that they never got to see. On a daily basis I get to read interesting books, listen to beautiful music, & eat delicious food that those folks can no longer savor. I still have my father & my sister, which is more than can be said for thousands of people who lost their parent or sibling two decades ago.
These are not things that I dwell on often…that would be crazy. However, in the years since 9/11/01 I have watched documentaries & read stories about the events of that day. Tales of heroism. Wild conspiracy theories. Interviews with people who were there. History that is concurrently heartbreaking & inspiring.
Unfortunately most of us tend to look at the big picture. We focus on politics. We lament that our nation, so united back then and supportive of first responders & our armed forces in the months following the attacks, has splintered into various opposing factions in the ensuing years. We celebrate the recent military withdrawal from Afghanistan while forgetting the reason they were there in the first place. Too many show disdain for law enforcement, which then causes others to argue with those that exhibit such contempt.
I am not saying that any of those subjects are wrong to ponder or discuss. There are valid issues worthy of intelligent debate. However, perhaps we should spend a little more time thinking about the lives lost, the families affected, and the communities impacted by the attacks. Maybe we should get back to respecting the police and our men & women in uniform. And we absolutely need to be more appreciative of every precious moment that we draw breath.
Twenty years ago 3000 people woke up to a lovely September morning. They got dressed, had breakfast with their families, kissed their spouse, dropped the kids off at school, and went to work at the various offices inside the World Trade Center & the Pentagon or reported for duty at firehouses, airports, & police precincts. They had no way of knowing that they would never return home. To be honest, each of us faces the same potential fate every single day, maybe not from planes crashing into buildings, but from a million other things that we never consider lest we drive ourselves mad.
Life is amazing. Occasionally mundane?? Sure. Oftentimes frustrating, sad, and exhausting?? Yes. But priceless nonetheless. I am reminded of Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he says “l gotta keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide could bring??”. So today, on this melancholy anniversary, hug your loved ones, laugh with your kids & grandkids, smile at your neighbors, value your job, call an old friend, listen to some music, delight in the sunshine, watch a good movie, read a book, eat something tasty, enjoy whatever makes you happy, and appreciate life. By doing that you honor those that can no longer do the same.