Everyone remembers where they were the moment they heard about a major disaster. The Challenger, John F. Kennedy, 9/11. The question usually refers to your physical location. Where were you, who were you with, what were you doing the moment you found out? Those things all remain such vivid images and sensations to us. I expect that those are things that we will never forget as long as we live. My thoughts today aren’t about where I was that morning, but where was I on the days and months that followed that morning.
I can’t and probably won’t ever remember my physical location on any of those following days, but what I do remember is a distinct change in my attitude, heart, and actions. I think that we all do if you take a minute and remember. I was working as a Corrections Officer for NYS and had those patriotic urgings to join the service and defend the country. I even went and talked to some recruiters in those following days. There was a sense of pride and protection of country that welled up inside all of us that was undeniable. You couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing countless vigils and gatherings with thousands of people completely different yet united with a single heart and voice. There was a sense of community and compassion for those around us like I had never seen or felt before in my life up to that point. We held doors for strangers, said hello to everyone we saw, honked our car horns at the sight of another car driving down the road with an American Flag on their antenna. You called family more often, held your kids tighter, made sure you kissed them goodnight and that there wasn’t a person in your life that didn’t know you loved them or how much they meant to you. The outpouring of respect, thanks, and admiration for our protectors was awe inspiring. People thanking them for their daily service and sacrifice. Each of us changed that day…
Think hard about it… Why did it take a disaster for us to hold tight to what was dear to us and to open up to others around us. There are always tough times, there is always a reason to do those things, and more to the point we shouldn’t need a reason. It seems as though we are moved to action by immediate and instant things. We are in and have been in a financial crisis as a country for a while now, and are surrounded by people struggling to keep going and to support their families. This crash happened gradually and there is no such outpouring of support or compassion for others. Why is that…more importantly where are the people that we were on 9/12, 9/13, 9/14 etc… Every one of us changed that day. How long did it last? What happened to it? Much like they way the current crisis came on slowly I think that the people we were left and faded slowly. I am not exempt from this attitude reversal. I realized today that I am not that same person either.
There will be much talk today about tributes and remembrances of that morning. I suggest that we take today to remember not only 9/11, but those following days also. Let’s take a moment and show our appreciation for those that have lost their lives and for those that fight for us and live in the ways that we did immediately following 9/11. That united country, heart, voice, and community is worth fighting for everyday, both abroad and right here at home. Let’s not wait for the next disaster to happen to change again.
You will always remember where you were. Don’t forget to take a minute sometimes and ask yourself where are you now?