Why You Should Talk About 9/11

I am grateful that everyone is taking the time to remember this day to honor the sacrifice made on this day.  On the anniversary of this day, our communities come together to share the story of where they were when they heard or saw the towers collapsed.  Its how we heal.  Its how we give ourselves permission to grow.

With that said… this is the first year I have not shared where I was or what I was doing.  Suffice it to say that I was serving as a Marine at the time and then as a Police Officer afterwards.  That is not what this post is about.

To get straight to the point… 12 years later… It is a great disservice to only remember our first responders this one day.

How many stories did you hear about a visit to a police station or fire department.  Tours throughout the year are not what I mean.  What I mean is… What have you done for your first responder lately? 

There are things we can do on a more regular basis… and it starts with our behavior towards them. I appreciate every citizen who came up to me and shook my hand when I patrolled the streets or was out on call. First Responders don’t always get a Thank you… sometimes they get scowls and angry remarks.

 

Despite it all, I can tell you that they respond from a place deep within them.  It is the reason they get up at odd hours and knock on doors or enter buildings you don’t want to enter. 

That night those first responders and many others, believed the world was coming to an end.  They didn’t bicker and complain.  They didn’t point out how impossible the task was.  Instead they chose to show up and help… they chose to not let fear stop them. 

We climb because they climbed.  My friend sharing Edward White Engine 230 and Raymond Meisenheimer Rescue 3 with us today.

Years later I find the best way I can honor those who serve us is to share stories of heroes.  I share stories of overcoming fear.  I refuse to live in fear.  Fear fills us with doubt and robs us of the ability to act.  Fear blocks inspiration.  That doesn’t mean I am not ever scared.  My heart goes pitter-patter at all the right moments, trust me.

Going forward if you want to influence your kids on the gravity of the day, you don’t have to rehearse the stories of this one particular incident.  Instead, show them and give them opportunities to be a part of their community!  Show your kids how you overcome fear! Give them permission to live courageously, through your example.  If you think you’re not the best example, then it’s your responsibility to surround them in an environment that encourages them to live courageously. 

That… is a priceless gift and one our country needs more of.  Communities who choose to live forward by overcoming fear, together.

What if the kids want to talk about the tragedy of that day, do I avoid it?

No.

In my home I don’t hide anything.  If they see I’m worried and ask I tell them why.  I never want them to be afraid of the truth.  By my example I hope to show them how to handle truth.  Even if it is unpleasant from time to time.  In general they are aware of 9/11.  My oldest more so than the younger ones, but they are sadly becoming stories in a history book.  Stories that neglect the hearts and souls that endured these heavy events.  Written in the same context of history as in the Holocaust, Vietnam War, and the internment of the Japanese Americans.  It makes me wonder what will we remember if we don’t talk about it?

Which is why in my own home, I would rather focus my time and energy in nurturing the characteristics or values they need to act if ever they were in that situation.  That means we talk about events like 9/11 and we visit memorials to honor those who gave their lives.  It also means we take the time to pay attention to current events.  That we participate in our communities and practice the values we claim are in important to us.

Those who wear the mantle of hero did not have the previous experience of 9/11 to inspire them to act in the face of peril and devastation.  They had training.  They had beliefs that helped them to focus on the mission at hand.  They understand what they practiced was vital to the community. Most importantly they didn’t demand someone compensate them before showing up.  They recognized the severity of the situation and they showed up.

Of all the pictures I saw this year, this is the picture that inspired me to write this post. 

My friend Abina E., proudly serving and sharing memories today with her community.  She is a joy and an inspiration!

My hope is that in 12 years from now, we will not only share the stories of where we were that day… rather that we would share stories of what how we have helped our first responders since then… what we did in our communities… what we did to come together.

I hope if you get the chance you will visit the National September 11 Memorial Museum to see and hear the stories we need to remember.  Stories that remind us to take the time to support and appreciate those who train, believe, and act for the benefit of our communities.  Stories that remind us to rise in the face of fear.  Stories that help us understand our values and our beliefs when they are challenged.

P.S. Every year I reread this post and reflect on the memory of those events.  I always seem to ask myself So what does it mean to be a first responder? What makes a citizen, a Patriot? Why do we help others when it may mean sacrificing our own lives for them?

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  • I love this! Each of us has the capacity to live courageously every day. It is not always the big gestures that constitute heroism. It is the daily fortitude to live your life by your morals and make sure your actions continue to reflect them. This is what you leave your children.

  • It is refreshing to see that there are other pov. well where to begin… for the lack of time on my part, I am going to copy and paste my point of view – my post on my personal FB page and some of my responses from other comments of the day…

    “well I should just get this out of the way for the day…
    It is terrible thing that happened 12 years ago, but everyday that victims die do to a murders hand is a terrible day. I for one despise the hoopla surrounding 9-11. Everyone asking you know what tomorrow is-yesterday- yeah folks September 11th- I am going to say that on December 6th and I could list hundreds of other dates when thousands of people died at the hand of another… the victims on, should I dare say, 9 freaking 11 are no more special then the millions that have died before them- Rest all there souls! we could memorialize everyday, but we are with the living and could make a difference in the kind, gentle, caring action today… instead mourning 1 injustice out of billions that has occurred since the beginning of time! Oh yeah and anyone having a birthday today do not feel “bad”for celebrating it! If we all did not celebrate our birthdays because someone died- none would have a birthday!”

    “from another post- does this put anything into prospective- KC” I think this is quite succinct, although it would probably cause as many waves. R.I.P. The 2976 American people that lost their lives on 9/11 and R.I.P. the 48,644 Afghan and 1,690,903 Iraqi and 35000 Pakistani people that paid the ultimate price for a crime they did not commit.””

    “I was at the site also, before it was even completely cleaned- I think just like being at the holocaust museum in highschool, the Vietnam memorial, Gettysburg- I think when you have a personal connection it does indeed offer understanding- and I think it is important to move forward and do what we can today for the living- but never forgetting and not being activity involved in positive change does nothing to improve quality of life- we just relive tragedy. I do not sit and replay the moments that I have seen people die- I remember the positive things that we enjoyed together!”

    “my real point is why isn’t there then “hoopla” for everyone else… and tv produced sights of death everyday for all the other victims of all other catastrophic events throughout history- playing over and over morbid events is ptsd- there more to say but healing is needed!”

    “my “insensitive” expression was saying yes I understand your loss, but we need to live and it is unhealthy to relive tragedy and to force others into ptsd. If you knew me I am not an insensitive, I am caring, considerate, and very understanding. None of us would go up to someone who experienced the loss of a loved one in a tragic way the day before the anniversary of said event and say “You know what tomorrow is!?” and then sit and watch their recorded death all day. Healing grief is remembering the life of the person. so if people are constantly trying to bring up an awful situation over and over- yeah I would say freaking.”

    ” P, yes I would if ten people came up to me the day before any one of my many young cousins died and ask “you know what to tomorrow is?” I would respond “yes 3 freaking9” “well they are going to televise their death we are watching or talking about all day” I would not participate- I would enjoy reminiscing on what they did, gave , or inspired. I do not have tv or read the news – if everyone else wants to express their feelings and thoughts they do and I did mine- it is just not popular- but how does it make me feel or others who share the same pov of the morbidness.”

    “sharing final post about this…I commented this earlier on my personal feed…Angella, this in no way was meant to be offensive to you or your family. It is something you do for you and your family and honor your brother. I just do not think it is right for everyone to continue to view the actual killing/dieing of people over and over. I have seen love ones take their last breath too many times but that is not the imagine that replays- it may have when it is fresh and new, but as time allowed for healing a few years or so, I could see only positive memories, and to relive the horror now 12 years in a row, is just not healthy. The one thing about fb is that people seem not to say what they mean and talk in code as if you are not there and don’t get me wrong people do that in “real life” too. In fact my post also reflects that like your family there are millions of families grieving everyday for love ones lost, I think about C- I remember the true concern in his face the first time he met dd3 and I see the deepness in your mothers eyes, your sisters… I think of one of many of my young cousins who have gone- her beautiful face her smile not the horrible way she died. so on 9-11 I do not want to see people die all over again- Wouldn’t it be more beautiful to hear about what they had done, what they inspire, and the positive way their lives are celebrated… besides grief, no forgiveness will abound along with hatred, and isn’t the real goal to love and show peace. I understand not wanting to have a “crass” friend- sometime things need to brought into the light and it may be unpopular. I do not like to beat around the bush, never have and never will, I do discuss some “things” with individuals in private and not on an “open forum”- I am who am – I do not say things I do not believe and stand by…”

    I thank you for reading…

    • Thank you Jessie for taking the time to share the conversations you had through the day! There is so much I agree with (obviously) and I’m glad you spoke up. Its individuals like you who create the thought provoking momentum to heal. Healing is a choice. By choosing to heal and grow together we do not forget those who were hurt or lost, we prove to them we are living at our personal best in their honor.

      • One more thing. You also mentioned the trap of re-living tragedy… Michael C. Hall (star of the show Dexter) mentioned in an interview that performing the acts does mess with you. You can see the interview here; http://on.cc.com/17WDGgR

        Back on topic. Hate never wins, it only destroys. Only Love and Light can bring us together. On that note, we become “whole” by the daily renewing on our minds. Its important what experiences and stories we absorb and its equally important what we share or pass on!

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