Sept. 11, 2001. The day the world ended. A horrific terrorist attack filled the skies with smoke and fire, claiming the lives of nearly 3,000 precious human beings–people of all ages and backgrounds, who had their lives ripped away from them in a heinous act of terrorism.
Sept. 12, 2001. The day a new world began. For while the dreadful events of Sept. 11 did indeed devastate this nation, they did not destroy us. And as we arose from the ashes in the fashion of a collective phoenix, we had a tool in our arsenal far more powerful than a gun or a bomb. We had love.
The question on our minds evolved from “How could this happen?” to “How can we help?” Across the nation, people hosted fund-raisers to raise money for the families of the fallen, and in support of the brave first responders who ran forward into the fire. We checked in our loved ones and told them how much we loved them. We shared hugs and tears with friends, and sometimes even with strangers.
Schoolchildren collected money, drew pictures, and wrote essays. Writers and artists offered tributes and remembrances that simply shone–both in their artistry and in their sublime tenderness. Musicians literally sang their hearts out, and radio disc jockeys broadcast their efforts.
Our hearts overflowed with love, our hands with help and understanding, our spirits with strength and perseverance. We wept and prayed together, we reached out to all who needed us. We not only picked ourselves up, we flew and soared.
Two decades have passed, and still, we survive. And although we once again reside in a time of anger, pain, fear, and uncertainty, still we find the love in our hearts to commemorate those we lost on Sept. 11. And while we’re at it, we can celebrate what we gained on Sept. 12.
Love, Humanity. Charity. And, above all, a reason to go on.