On Sunday, we commemorated the tenth anniversary of 9/11 – one of the most horrific days in our nation’s history. Evil men killed thousands in the name of God, hurling hate through the clear blue fall sky. On this anniversary, the media made it almost impossible to escape the images most of us long to forget—those Towers crumbling to the ground in a cloud of toxic smoke, the Pentagon speared by an arrow of flame, a mangled wreckage in a Pennsylvania field.
It is important we remember.
I wonder, though, are we remembering the right things?
There were plenty of thoughtful programs on 9/11 and its aftermath. For me, though, the sheer glut of coverage, the repetition of those awful images over and over, started to feel more like wallowing than commemorating. So I started to wonder, if we harp on replays of the planes hitting the Towers, of the Pentagon burning, of rubble strewn on a field, what are we really highlighting?
We are highlighting hate.
We should not be remembering the hate that spurred the evil; I choose to remember the good.
I remember the lives of those lost, and how they touched us all.
I remember the rescue workers who flocked to the scenes, some to sacrifice their lives that day, some to sacrifice them slowly to diseases in the years since.
I remember the thousands of volunteers who helped in any way they could.
I remember the huge outpouring of support for those who had lost family and friends.
I remember the native New Yorker and the new immigrant who barely spoke English standing side-by-side and communicating deeper than language.
I remember the unity of our country in the aftermath, when we were not Republican or Democrat, but American.
I remember the personal courage of the American people to continue to live their lives in defiance of the terrorists.
I remember my brother agonizing over whether to have his wedding four days after 9/11, as planned. He did, a silent shout to the terrorists that evil would not prevail.
I remember on the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a beautiful baby girl being born to my brother and sister-in-law—a reminder of the light and hope that still shines in America today, and a further reminder that the terrorists did not win.
I look upon America on this tenth anniversary, and see a country divided against itself, a country where “other” has become the enemy, a country where the language of hate sounds loud and clear.
But I remember one luminous moment in time when we were one people, where “other” was simply our neighbor, where we understood each other without words.