Remembering 9/11 – Looking Past Hate Toward the Greatness of Unity

September 11, 2001 changed the lives of many. For those who lived through it, we will never forget the exact moments when we learned that a horrible tragedy was no accident, searing the visions in our minds forever. Almost 3,000 lives were lost on that day and more than 6,000 injured; in addition, a significant number of the heroes who responded to the attacks have died or are suffering from mental illness or diseases that are a result of exposure to the scene—in the deadliest terrorist attack in our history. As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, we remember and we reflect on the impact those attacks have had on our nation, especially our law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders who willingly and knowingly risked or gave their lives to save others.

Much of a first responder’s job is to help people during their most difficult and trying life events, however, September 11, 2001, was undeniably different than what most of us have experienced in our lives. The sacrifices of our first reponders have not been forgotten—in fact, 9/11 is a solemn reminder to us, that even in our darkest moments, our first responders will always show up to protect our communities, even at their own peril. For those who were able to physically survive the attacks, they have faced longstanding physical and mental trauma and an increased risk of heart, respiratory, and cancer-related illnesses. While most of us remember that day on its anniversary, these heroes relive and struggle with 9/11—every day.

Because of the courage and dedication of our first responders, and the unity born out of tragedy, terrorism did not win that day, just as it will not win today or tomorrow. Instead, we, as Americans, and the world demonstrated that justice shall prevail. In honor of those who serve, we offer our gratitude, support, and deepest respect. Let us continue to honor the legacy of those who perished, support the survivors, and commit to telling our children how sacrifice, hope, bravery, and courage prevailed, and how we—as Americans and the world—came together in unity. Though hate may have brought us momentarily to our knees, the power of unity and hope will always be much greater.

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