Yes, of course, I remember. But instead of the usual where were you on that fateful day post, I’d like to share some things I remember about the days following September 11, 2001.
I remember kindness. I remember patience. I remember people all around me in grocery stores, on the road, at the mall pausing to smile, to connect.
I remember being American.
I was recovering from a breakup…it had been a while, but we talked often. We’d healed. She’d moved on. We stayed friends because I wanted her in my world. After a few hours at work, I called her, and we headed to downtown Denver and sat in a bar across the street from the World Trade Center which was decorated in a huge pink bow because the walk for cancer was coming up, and Denver turned everything pink in preparation for October each year.
Everything was quiet. She talked about the potential of being recalled into the Air Force where she’d spent eight years. But more than our experience together, we were with community. People in the apartments nearby hung American flags from their balconies, something their building probably didn’t allow on a normal Tuesday. The bar was pretty close to empty, but the few of us there talked. We tried to smile. We didn’t ask what one another did for a living. We didn’t care about which neighborhood we all lived. No one seemed to notice the two lesbians sitting with them. There was no judgment on the beer we ordered. No small talk. It was calm, quiet. But more than that, everyone was respectful.
You see, in moments duress, sadness, in moments of attack, we are all connected.
We paused to recognize our own humanity, our commonality. We don’t do this every day. We are all too busy. Some of us feel a sense of entitlement. We honk horns at lights while a mom in front of us is trying to reach a sippy cup for her crying toddler in the safest moment she can find on the road. We complain if the cashier at the grocery store talks too long to the customer in front of us because we are in a hurry to move on to the next task. We are impatient. We are sometimes cruel. We taunt and tease. We poke fun at the expense of others.
We are human.
In those days following September 11, 2001, we weren’t all that different at all. We were human. We were patient. We were kind. We took the time to compliment one another, to recognize something good in each other. We were humans – together.
Each year, I look for that again.
I see it sometimes. I see in where I live. But sometimes we fall off this wagon of commonality and forget to pause and reflect. Sometimes we forget we are all in this together. Sure, we don’t all share connected lives. But we all live. And we all die. While we’re here, we love, we hurt, we anger, we laugh. We smile. We feel. We want, desire, and yearn for various things, and though those things may differ, we all know that feeling of passion and desire.
We win. We lose. We try. We bother.
And sometimes we don’t.
This week and into the next, and if you’re up for a challenge, the weeks to follow too, try to get back to this place. If not every moment of every day, at least one moment each day, do something kind. Make a difference. Show some patience. Share a smile. Tell a joke and make someone laugh.
Remember we are on this rock together. We won’t all agree. But we can try to find a commonality each day. Each day, let’s try.
Every year I remember all the lives lost. All the nationalities. All the Americans. All the people left behind.
Today, I share this song by Melissa Etheridge about Mark Bingham, one of the many heroes on Flight 93.
Things have changed since Mark and Todd and others forced Flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania rather than into its target. Mark could marry who he loved today. He’d probably have a hugely successful business and a proud mother today. It took him years to come out and years to be open…today I bet he’d be a happy advocate.
Instead, he and the others on that plane will forever be heroes.