The events of 9/11 are seared in our collective consciousness. We all remember exactly where we were when the planes hit the twin towers. I was in Sarasota and remember watching George Bush being rushed across the tarmac to Air Force One. We then watched Air Force One take off as two fighter jets streamed past overhead. I had never seen a 747 take off at that angle before – it was almost vertical. Amazing. And then they were gone.
Now, 13 years later, we can put some perspective on these events. What did 9/11 teach us? What has happened, and not happened, since 2001?
A few of my thoughts –
1) We now know that we are stronger than we thought, and much stronger than our adversary might have imagined. Most of the leadership of Al-Qaeda are now dead and today’s America is even more resolute in its battle to defeat extremism while respecting cultural differences.
2) We still remain true to our values of freedom and self determination. Yes, the government collects more information and some of us see that as a move away from freedom but in the end, we can debate this topic without risk on imprisonment. Instead of turning inward and withdrawing, we have remained engaged and still stand by our principles.
3) America continues to be a beacon of hope for people who want to create a new future. I work with many people who hope to immigrate to the USA and open businesses. They see the USA as a ‘better place’ to create a new future and to raise their children. The American dream is still alive and well.
The loss of life was a tragedy. However, we also have many heroes that emerged during and after 9/11. Let’s not forget the plane that never made it to the target due to the passengers overtaking the plane and eventually downing it in a field forfeiting their own lives in order to save others. Let’s also remember the people who rushed into the Twin Towers in order to help others get out – in some cases carrying people on their back down the stairs.
What strikes me most is how our fundamental beliefs have remained consistent. How opportunity still presents itself and how America still works. Yes, this is a day of morning. But it is also a day of celebration – a day to be grateful. We are stronger today because of 9/11.