Although I have spent the majority of the post 9/11 decade living outside of the USA, I am still amazed and saddened by the impact that day continues to have.
Even now, ten years later, my skin crawls just thinking of the horror and sadness I felt as I watched the towers fall.
Many people, more eloquent, experienced or patriotic than myself are pausing today to commemorate the heroes, mourn the dead and celebrate our freedom.
As I’ve watched the interviews with survivors and firefighters, and read blog posts and Facebook statuses, I have been amazed at the plurality of responses. There is still incredible anger, loss and pain. There is also forgiveness and a desire for change.
At the time of the attacks, I was in grade 9. Impressionable and patriotic, I collected newspaper clippings, prayed for our troops and interviewed a New York local. In the years that followed, I think the greatest lesson I learned from September 11, 2001, was that the world is a very broken place. While for Americans, this was an unprecedented and unparalleled attack, for many, the violence and death we experienced that day is commonplace. In many countries, terrorist attacks (albeit often on a smaller scale), are a daily threat, war tears society into two and mothers worry about how to feed their children as their village is razed.
I don’t say this to negate the tragedy of 9/11. Only to say that my own awareness of the suffering and brokenness of the world grew when my own freedom and safety was challenged. In a small way, the fear I felt on 9/11 gave me a glimpse of real fear, and enlarged my capacity for compassion.
Finally, I would like to thank the firefighters, policemen, paramedics and civilians who risked and gave their lives that day in love. I’m ashamed to think how quickly we forget and how callous and selfish certain Mayors of New York City can be. Know that you are not forgotten. Thank you for your sacrifice.