It’s 9/11. A day etched on the hearts and minds of millions for all the wrong reasons. The internet is lit up with messages of not forgetting. We will never forget. A day of such horror and devastation could never be erased from the mind. The anniversary of pain and loss reminds us that evil exists and that life is not to be taken for granted. It was a monumental moment during which the very lifeblood of our great nation was caught unawares, crippled by the blow and brought to our knees. It’s impossible to forget. We can never disregard the thousands who lost their lives; we will not overlook the thousands more who were afflicted by injuries. To forget would be impossible.
But, do we remember? Do we remember all of those brave firefighters, police, and other service workers who willingly risked their lives to help others? Can you remember hearing of those selfless men and women who marched into a burning building, only to have it topple down upon them? How many towns, stations, precincts, and districts sent volunteer team members to New York to aid in the aftermath? To sift through the rubble, searching for signs of life? These men and women were our heroes; we showered them with the praise, respect, and dignity they deserve on a regular basis. Do you remember that? If we remember, then how have we gotten to a point in time where police officers are being slain simply for wearing a uniform? How have we gotten to a point where we question the motives of those who vowed to serve and protect? How did these brave men and women go from being lauded and appreciated to being suspect, mistrusted, and guilty until proven innocent? Do we remember? Do we truly remember their sacrifice? The risks they take on a daily basis?
Do we remember what it meant to be a nation, undivided? Can you recall how quickly, how strongly we banded together as a country? We worked in unison, as neighbors, doing what we could to help in some way, shape, or form. We briefly rekindled that American spirit of “One nation, under God,” and it was good. Every person, in every town, in every state saw it as an attack in their own backyard. Do we remember that? If we remember, why do we seem so quick to divide ourselves today? Why do we so willingly jump under labels of “conservative,” “Republican,” “Democrat,” “Liberal,” and allow our viewpoints to be dictated by these labels? If you share the liberal opinions, does that mean you must also support the mutilation and selling of humans? If you are more conservative does that mean you must automatically support war and deny the right that people have to choose their own partner? Remember what it was like to simply be a “human being” in a world full of other beings, just trying to make some sense out of the chaos?
Do we remember how tightly we squeezed our loved ones? The realization of just how precious, how fleeting life really is was fresh on our minds. When we picked up a phone it was to call someone and tell them we loved them; it wasn’t to play a game or check a status. Our televisions were turned to the news, not the latest reality show. We had conversations with friends about life and death, not weather and sports. Prayers were unending. Can you recall what it felt like to crave human contact, to give human contact? Do you remember that time when all the extraneous fell away—possessions didn’t matter, work and school were put on hold, and differences were cast aside? Do you remember that brief moment in time when all that mattered was life? Life that was lost, life that kept going, life that served to help and heal.
No, we will never, ever forget. But will we remember?