How Can We Forget

I woke up this morning like every morning for the past several weeks, without an alarm clock.  It wasn’t until I got online and checked Facebook that I realized what day it was.

I saw numerous posts, photos, and words that remind us, “Never Forget.”

13 years ago, this nation faced its darkest day and was shown its brightest hope, allowing us to rediscover what it means to be brave, to stand with one another, and to love unconditionally.  In the midst of that terror, the darkness as the towers collapsed, we watched as people ran in panic, in fear.  But we were shown another face that we can never forget.  343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers gave their lives to save countless others.  Hundreds more rushed towards the scene in response as people ran away in fear.

This is the face we remember.  The face we choose to remember.

These men and women gave us a glimpse of bravery.  Were they scared?  Were they afraid?  I’m sure of it, but they came forwards anyways.  Their example gave us the opportunity to rediscover who we were, who we are as a nation.

How can we ever forget that?

Fear.  Fear is the ultimate goal of acts of terror.  To make us afraid of living.  To have us cower behind closed doors and constantly looking over our shoulder.

As a child in 8th grade, I saw the world as this distant place.  Sure, I knew where New York City was, but it had nothing to do with me.  A field in Pennsylvania?  I could probably locate it on a map.  But then the Pentagon.  That struck home.  Several years before, I walked those very halls.  That was something real to me.  My father worked there years ago, but that was something I knew.

Sitting there in Mrs. Black’s Georgia History class, working on a Native American research project with two other Army Brats, we heard the news in clips and hesitant comments.  We were told that the military base, Ft Stewart had been put on lock down, and all we could think about was how were we going to get back home.

Children pick up on things.  Sure, I knew that something bad had happened, but it wasn’t until I walked into the house and saw the television sitting in our living room.  The TV was never in the living room.  We barely watched anything other than Atlanta Braves Baseball Games.  And suddenly I understood.  This was bad.  Really bad.

Last year, I got to walk on those hallowed grounds.  Ground Zero.  In the chilly morning hours I read the names and stood in that place, surrounded by the memories of those brave men and women.  I knew there were good men and women in the world.  Brave ones who remind us what it means to live.  I grew up surrounded by them.  Men and women who serve in our armed forces alongside my father.  My dad.

It was that moment, 13 years ago, that reminded us that there are so many brave men and women that surround us each and every day.  They are the first responders.  The police officers, paramedics, and firemen.  They are the search and rescue personnel that arrive while chaos still reigns and fear is still settling in our hearts.  They are the countless stories of nameless individuals who took people in, that comforted those in need.  They are the hundreds of boat captains who evacuated the island of Manhattan, who answered the call.  It was revealed that day that we could all be brave.

Never Forget.

Bravery showed us how to stand together.  Bravery showed us the ultimate act of love.  Bravery showed us that it is okay to break down and cry, but it also showed us how to act.

We can never forget their sacrifices.  We can never forget how they chose to live, especially in those last moments.


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