Written by me, a few years ago:
‘September 12, 2002’
Yes we remember. But we did not need an anniversary to commemorate these tragic events. Indeed, our great Nation is now following the course of a new trajectory, permanently altered by the loss of two towers, four aircraft, and most importantly, three thousand lives.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men . . . are endowed by their Creator with . . . the right to life. This is the sacred premise that forms the promise of this Nation. As a result of this faith to each other, we are the envy of the entire Earth. Of course we hold each life to be sacred. Of course random, if malicious, acts that quiet the collective voices of three thousand of our citizens will be met with such horror and disbelief. Of course, we remember.
If you are like me, you spent last week dreading the arrival of this particular anniversary. You vowed to your friends and neighbors that you could not bear to watch the media coverage of this ‘event’. And yet. And yet you couldn’t look away. How could you? When events conspire to change your life forever, how can you help but mark and remember the change?
But isn’t that the point? Those heroic souls will always be with us. Twenty years from now, the phrase, ‘Let’s roll’ will have just as much meaning to the psyche of our national soul as it does today. This change is permanent. And we will remember.
I won’t speak to the madmen who perpetrated this event except to say that their relentless and methodological extermination is too sweet and swift a release. I soothe my anger and hate with the thought that not just my God, but their God will have His just vengeance. And for now, that must be enough.
So now, while I can never forget, I can neither live in the past. And so, like you, I move forward.
In the coming days and years, I fear that how we choose to memorialize our fallen brothers and sisters will be met with discord. Indeed, controversy already reared its ugly head over a bronze statue of heroes raising the flag that was to be donated to the FDNY Headquarters building. That monument was ultimately scrapped.
And then there is the controversy of exactly what to do with sixteen acres of the most prime real estate in the world that also just happen to be the grave of heroes. Yes, more controversy lay ahead.
In the end, the physical monuments to our fallen will find their way into permanence and that will be that. It is the spiritual monuments we build that will truly matter. We are changed. How we craft that change into becoming better humans, better Americans will tell the tale for our heroes.
Our society is not perfect. We don’t pretend to be perfect. Instead, we live by the collective creed to strive to become ever better in our lives. The one sure fact of the mindless, evil destruction that visited us on that haunting day is this; regardless the opposition we may face, we will remain united in our goal to reach out for a vision of a better way.
America stands for, if nothing else, the search for that better way. United, we do indeed Stand. We do indeed pray for the better angels of our nature. We collectively cry in grief when that vision so utterly fails us. We collectively promise, to both the dead and the living, that a better way is possible. It is within our collective reach. United, we pledge our oath that nothing can stand in the way of those better angels and brighter paths.
And so, 9/11 has come and gone again. But today, 9/12, is just as important a day to remember our fallen. Today is just as important a day to rededicate the soul of our nation to better and brighter paths. Today is just as important a day to hold hands ever closer, loved ones ever dearer, life ever braver.
After all, this is who we are. It was always who we were, even when we were off course. We aren’t off course any longer. This is the legacy of our heroes. And this is what we have striven all these generations to achieve. It is our collective destiny to find a bigger soul to unite us all.