Saturday, September 10, 2011
What does 9/11 mean?
Ten years ago, on that gorgeous, now-infamous, September day, when life changed for most Americans, it was hard to imagine, hard to fast-forward, 10 years down the road.
On that September morn, life went from stable and sure, to rather shaky and unpredictable for most folks I know.
But looking back over the years, which really seem like just a fleeting moment for me, what does 9/11 mean?
When I think about the World Trade Center, and how it took 10 full years to rebuild that sight, it leaves me rather defeated. The towers are gone and they have been replaced with something different, albeit a decidedly more momentous ground than it ever was before. I can't imagine that place ever being free of ghosts, imagined or real, however, and it will always be tremendously sad to think about the thousands of people who disappeared from this earth that day.
When I think about the Pentagon I am proud that our military rebuilt their facility and their memorial, a beautiful thought-filled memorial to their comrades lost that day. But I am one with great faith in the military, so I don't think it's that unusual that they accomplished what they did. Being the soldiers they are, they pulled themselves up and kept going.
When I look around today, however, and think about what has left the greatest mark on our country from that day, I think about Flight 93, and the men and women who, with full knowledge that they were probably on their way to their deaths, fought back, fought for their right to life, fought to save their fellow Americans.
There is nothing left of Flight 93. Like the people inside the Twin Towers, they just evaporated from the earth. Unlike the Pentagon, and the New York memorial, their memorial is not oft visited. It's off the beaten path in the middle of Pennsylvania country -- a place you have to be going to in order to see it. But that's really what makes it more special -- it's the lasting memory of their final act that speaks for itself. We don't need a memorial, a reflecting pond, a bronze plaque to remember those people. They are the spirit of America.
When I think about how America was most marked by 9/11, I think about the spirit of the men and women on Flight 93. It is the memory of Americans fighting to their last, fighting for whoever was in the path of that airplane, that makes me think that is how America changed. Americans remembering Flight 93 know that we are not afraid to fight. We are not afraid to speak up and say "that's not right." Americans will not lie down for its enemies.
Americans everywhere need to remember the last acts of Flight 93 and never forget 9/11, not as long as there is breath in our bodies. We should never forget the home of the free and the land of the brave.
My first and only other 9/11 post can be found here. It's my family's 9/11 story.
at 2:55 PM