Remembering September 11th (Thoughts on tragedy)
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I was 15 years old when I watched the Twin Towers fall down. My eyes swollen and swirled in a cruel mixture of tears and disbelief at the sight of the mighty towers submission to gravity as they tumbled down to earth. I along with the rest of America. I clenched my fists as I witnessed the buildings disappear into a toxic cloud of thick gray debris. To me September 11th 2001 deeply wounded to the core of what, at that point, I believed to be America. But like any wound which does not ultimately kill you, I felt as though we as a nation grew stronger. I watched as Americans came together for a rare glimpse of a completely United America; one lacking Bi partisan squabbles that can sometimes be far away from the imperative issues at hand. It might as well have been the fourth of July that day, or the whole month for that matter as the Flag was hung from every doorstep in my suburban neighborhood as far as the eye could see. On tragedy Robert F.Kennedy once said,” Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” Coming across this quote on this most infamous of days, it makes me ponder exactly what we have learned as a nation since September the 11th.
In the days, months then years following that most tragic of days we attempted to associate blame for that incident with a whole host of actors eventually leading to our military involvement in two separate conflicts in the Middle East. Those conflicts of course were in Iraq and Afghanistan, and while the engagements were notably different and arguably a mistake, we still garnered wisdom as a people from both. From Afghanistan we learned that the Middle East is complicated and filled with many factors that can affect the outcome of any given situation. In short there is no easy “black and white” answer to long sought questions. Unfortunately, from Iraq we learned that our government was completely capable of misleading its people into a war of false pretenses. Perhaps more importantly we learned to reserve our trust until it was earned. That is evident most of all in these last weeks as our P.O.T.U.S starts the slow beat of war, and how the noise of that drum has not yet been echoed by the people. They do not embrace his call for justice for the death of children not born of our shores. It seems so long as they’re not wearing “American Boots” their protest is somewhat shriller in regards to tragedies that affect those who walk in foreign soles. That is why yesterday, the President in this his 7th address of such a fashion, gave an impassioned plea to the people before he takes his case to the contentious house on the behalf of those who can no longer speak …the innocent lives lost on Syria’s own day of tragedy. On that day the president stressed “More than fourteen hundred lives were lost, four hundred of them children.” On September 11th 2001 nearly 2,977 Americans died. The morning following the attacks and to this day in many countries a moment of silence is observed in remembrance of our American tragedy, yet so far after Syria’s tragedy all the world’s community has managed to do is tweet.
I believe it is unfair to associate one tragedy with another in the scope of time. I do however believe it is important to reference a past historical experience to show us how best to conduct ourselves in the future. For the truest mark of wisdom, is not how frequently one might make mistakes, but how frequently one is able to recover and learn from those mistakes. I cannot list all nearly 3000 names belonging to lives lost on September 11th in a single article but I will attach a link at the bottom of the page if you care to review it. To experience the entire loss of this tragedy, I invite you to do as I did before writing this article and read each name on that list, if only to contemplate the immense depth of the humanity lost that day. Today is indeed a day of remembrance, of national reflection, and for those who had family in the towers, grievance and a unique sense of loss. Today I will observe not one but two moments of silence, the first at 8:46 am for the lives lost on September 11th, and the second soon after for all those touched by the grim hand of tragedy. No matter the distinction of nationality or the method of their demise, I believe all loss of human life is tragic.
When pondering the wisdom garnered from this tragedy I must reference Plato when he said “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” I say this to state that the most afflicting thing about these tragedies to me is that still, even in this modern day and age there exist men so steeped in darkness that they are capable of carrying out such atrocities against humanity. It is our task to expose those men who exist enraptured in darkness and evil to the light, and in so doing gain the knowledge of our interactions, and recover from the mistakes that were made that allowed those men to prosper. Long ago, 13 struggling colonies learned to hold certain truths to be self-evident, but none more so than “United We Stand”. With that truth realized they were able to defeat an empire. I hope that a united world can expose those who inflict the World’s populace with tragedy to their much deserved justice so that we can all exist equally within the light. But until that day, hopefully logic will Prevail.