We Will Always Remember
I find myself in a restless place of reflection. Today is the 17th Anniversary of 9/11. A day that most people around the world will never forget – especially North Americans. Terrorist attacks, war, large-scale violence – these were all things reported about from the other side of the world, but not something you expected to witness in peaceful North America. Until that tragic day.
My daily routine was always to rise early, make coffee, and catch up on the world happenings with my morning news program Canada AM. But I had just moved into a new apartment, and so that morning I altered my routine. I was feeling ambitious and chose to unpack boxes and begin organizing my kitchen – I kept the TV off. Then I received a phone call. My brother-in-law was worried for me – Was I okay? Could I even begin to imagine the horrors unfolding? I didn’t understand the nature of the conversation until he told me that the World Trade Towers were on fire. They had been attacked. Planes had flown into them. I was in absolute shock. I ran to the living room, turned on the TV and there it was, on the screen in front of me, the two towers burning. I sat in disbelief watching the events unfolding, listening to the chaos. My beloved Manhattan was under attack – and why? Why? I saw the people jumping. I watched the towers fall.
That day. It altered the world. It altered us all. Children lost parents, parents lost children, husbands lost wives, wives lost husbands, and so on and so forth the tragedy unfolded. The hearts broke. We learned about the last minute phone calls that loved ones made, knowing their lives were lost, knowing they were not going to survive; we read about the passengers on UA Flight 93 who bravely tried to subdue the hijackers, losing their lives in the fatal crash in Stonycreek Township. The shockwaves, the panic, the absolute dismay of that day. It was profound. It was a turning point in world history. A new wave of terror was unleashed. Small-scale and random attacks, not war but terror – the Bali bombings (2002); The Tentena Market bombings (2005); the Mumbai Train bombings (2006); the Moscow Metro bombings (2010); the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); the shootings at Parliament Hill, Ottawa (2014); the Paris attacks (2015); the London attacks (2017) … These lists are extensive, unsettling, and horrifying. That we have become a society where such violent acts of terror resides – the War on Terror – it is a different war from that which our Grandparents and Great-Grandparents had fought. It is on-going. It is unpredictable. It is shattering. It drastically alters a person’s life in the breath of a single moment.
Yes. It is a complex world and a complex war. I am not a journalist. I am not educated on the intricacies of war or terror. I am merely a person of this world, struggling through life, traversing my own journey, trying to make the best choices, and trying to make a positive difference in the lives of those around me. And I think, most of us are these people. I think most of us want a life of fulfillment, kindness, happiness, and pleasure. We are the souls that laugh with each other; grieve with one another; offer solidarity; seek out ways to help our fellow being. I do think that small acts of kindness are the grandest acts of love. And I know that – even in these darker times – this light of love can shine through.
What I remember about 9/11 are the grand acts of love born from such atrocity – the heroism; the communities across the continent that openly and warmly accepted plane loads of stranded people; and of the hundreds of First Responders from across North America who travelled to Manhattan to assist in the aftermath. I remember the candlelight vigils, the prayers, the tears. There was an ever-present love, support, shared anguish, and compassion that rose from the ashes. And I think what cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead observed expresses it best, Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Those acts of kindness and love may not have revolutionized the world, but they had made profound differences in the lives of all those affected. It altered the perception. It altered the experience. And though we will never forget the tragedy, we will always remember the grand acts of love.
There’s some good in this world … And it’s worth fighting for. J.R.R. Tolkein
We Will Always Remember. Published by Crystal Joy Hall