When Words Aren’t Enough- A Remembrance
There are times when words aren’t enough. Words on paper, online, whatever canvas we choose ultimately tend have small impacts in the great scheme of things. There are exceptions to this of course; Martin Luther’s 95 theses, great novels or scripts that ignite people. “Hamilton” is a recent example of this. The thing these written works have in common that have such a large impact on people is this; ‘they do.’ What I mean by this is those words ‘do something’ whether spoken, read, sung, acted etc they challenge people to do something. It could be an exercise in the physical sense or mental, but they still makes people ‘do.’
You may be asking yourself what these thoughts have to do with September 11. I’m getting there, I promise. There have been great travesties and horrors in American history and all throughout the history of this World. Most of us reading this will say September 11, 2001 was the biggest tragedy in our lifetime. Much like the assassination of JFK or Pearl Harbor in the generations before us, we know exactly where we were when the news started to reach us. Sophomore year of high school, Ms. Boggs English class; Mrs. Irwin came in from her room to tell us about the first plane. We turned on the news right after the second tower was hit. I can recall as if yesterday nearly every moment of that day. A cowardly attack on innocent people, shame on us if we ever forget an event that will define many lives thereafter.
Looking back 17 year ago, literally a generation ago. A generation before threat color levels, the worries of random acts of terrorism. What sticks out to me is something words I don’t believe could ever really fully capture. Simply put, people found it in themselves to just do. There are countless stories from that day of people just doing. Rick Rescorla who survived the Ia Drang valley with Col. Hal Moore in Vietnam, Welles Crowther- ‘The Man in the Red Bandana’; Jeremy Glick, Tom Burnett, Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer who were the first to take the fight back to the perpetrators of evil that day aboard Flight 93 igniting with simple words, “Let’s Roll.” Many others 8 private EMS providers, 27 Port Authority Officers of New York and New Jersey, 23 NYPD officers and the 343 firefighters of the FDNY all perished so others may live. The total loss of life that day totaled nearly 3,000. Including the illnesses related from the toxins at ground zero the numbers are even greater.
Yet our enduring memories of this day are of these ordinary people who lived this day larger than life and became immortal heroes who we should and I hope never forget. The losses could have been greater that terrible day, but these titans of men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice to save as many that day as possible. Words really can’t describe the thanks these brave souls deserve; ordinary citizens working alongside emergency personnel running into towering infernos to save complete strangers. Their actions rose above words! They acted, they did. We remember them today and hopefully every day.
In the days, weeks, months and years that followed we sent our best to avenge these actions. United our country rallied behind the memories of our fallen and an unspeakable attack on our way of life. While at Ground Zero President George W. Bush spoke simple but poignant words after hearing chants of U.S.A. President Bush responded, “I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” We responded with absolute resolve and came together as one.
Seventeen years later here we are a country that I must say sadly does not resemble the weeks and months of unity after September 11, 2001. We are as divided as recent memory recalls and we should look inward to see how we can heal. If your first thoughts are to unconditionally accept your way of thinking, stop. Rarely ever will two people ever fully agree on anything. What we can do, must do as nation is learn to compromise. No one side has all the right answers; it takes hard work dedication, compromise, and teamwork to make this great experiment we call America work. We have to come together again and work together to continue this great Nation in its continuing move forward.
Let’s remember to put aside our differences and find the common ground to continue our cause together as one. Looking back seventeen years later, I still don’t have to words to describe the bravery and heroism displayed by countless individuals on September 11, 2001. The lasting memories to me are not of sadness and destroyed buildings, but of triumph and valor in the face of danger. Remember these heroes from all walks of life who didn’t ask those they went to save of their opinions or ideologies they just went, and they did. Their actions that day spoke louder than any words.
September 11, 2001 a day to remember, a day when good triumphed over evil. To those we lost in New York City, Washington D.C. and a quiet field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania we remember you today and forever.
Attached is the short ESPN documentary of Welles Crowther, ‘The Man in the Red Bandana.’