Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We still remember

Six years ago today I was working at an audio-visual company. I had just started my day when our Logistics Manager walked in and said "plug in one of the TVs. My wife just called and said something hit the World Trade Center in New York City." Being an A/V company, we had tv monitors everywhere. So we grabbed the nearest one, plugged it in and turned it on.

And sure enough...

We watched the whole thing. Watched the second plane hit the tower. Watched both towers collapse. Everything. Most people left work shortly thereafter. Who can concern themselves with videowalls and lighting systems when faced with such loss of life?

On my way home, all I could think was that I wanted to help. I wanted to do something. I kept thinking of all those people. The ones who were trapped, the ones who would go in to find them, and the family and friends who would anxiously await their return. So much destruction. So much death. There had to be something I could do to help.

My friend Aaron and I ended up going to a Meijer where the Red Cross was collecting food and boxing it up to ship to NYC. We worked until well after midnight boxing up food, writing notes of prayer and encouragement on the boxes, and loading the boxes on trucks. It wasn't much, but it was something. I kept looking for ways to help because it was all I could think to do. Finally, about a week later, when it seemed there wasn't much left for us to do, I finally broke down and cried. Months later, when the clean-up of "Ground Zero" was pronounced finished, I cried again.

Today there were no tears. At least, not from me. But I am certain that, around the country, many tears were shed. Thousands lost their lives that day and I can't fathom how many friends, co-workers and family members must be left behind to grieve. My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to them all.

In the weeks and months that followed 9/11, we saw something of this country's great - but often latent - character. We have an unusual ability to stand in the face of destruction and devastation and boldly proclaim that we will neither be divided nor defeated. If only something less traumatic could move us to such unwavering unity. For brief moments we realize that, truly, all men are created equal, and that - regardless of differing faiths, cultures, skins colors, or socio-economic backgrounds - we cannot stand without each other.

Would that we could embrace this truth more permanently and through less painful circumstances.


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