9/11/01: A Day to Remember

Patriots’ Day Parade

Patriots’ Day Parade (Photo credit: mcritz)

For most people, remembering 9/11/01 is about remembering where they were when they first heard the news.  It is easy to recall it since it was such a shocking day filled with tragedy after tragedy and while most felt numb that day, recall of the event now includes emotions of great sadness, grief, despair, and anger.  The many days of confusion that followed 9/11/01 are more of fog compared to the moment in which you first heard the news.  That moment is imbedded into your memory as if it was yesterday, stirring up a mixture of both old and new emotions.  With each passing year, the memory refuses to fade as new memories are implanted into your head; instead it remains a solidly fixed and sober event.

But remembering 9/11/01 should not be so selfish.  It should not be about remembering where you were or who you were with or how you felt.  The people who committed the acts of terrorism on 9/11/01 were the selfish ones thinking only of their beliefs, their cause, their feelings, and their goal.  On that day, the terrorists focused solely on their agenda at the great expense of the lives of others.   No, this day, Patriot’s Day, should not a selfish day but rather a day in which we all remember one another and the sacrifices that were given both willingly and unwillingly.  For many gave their life, some had their life stolen, thousands of families were impacted and others worked tirelessly to save lives and clean up the debris.  For those individuals, this day has a different meaning as it was not just a national event, it was personal and it forever changed them as such.

Remember them.  Have you ever had to clean up after a disaster?  Maybe you have been in a natural disaster where things are suddenly not where they belong and destroyed beyond repair.  Or maybe you have had a smaller event such as a pipe bursting or a two-year-old on a rampage through your house.  While it is frustrating to see things get so out-of-place in such a short time, it can be even more frustrating to put things back together again.  Remember those worked after 9/11/01 cleaning up an unbelievable mess day after day only to discover an even greater mess beyond the surface.  The amount of discouragement must have been overwhelming, yet they kept going year after year.  For these individuals, 9/11/01 is not just a day; it is a series of events forever imbedded into their current memory.  And while they unselfishly gave of themselves to accomplish a task, they continue to give of themselves through the memories which repeatedly traumatize them.

Thank them.  These unselfish individuals deserve your thanks and gratitude for a sacrifice that hopefully you can only imagine but will never fully know from experience.  For most of them, recognition and thanks is nice but they did not do it for that reason.  Rather, they had a job to do and chose to do well.  Every day you have a choice to just do your job and get by with as little effort as possible or you can choose to do your job well and like the heroes of 9/11/01 do it beyond expectation.  The heroes had a choice and it is obvious by the outcome that they put aside their selfish desires and chose to live a life of service to others.  It is easier to say a thank you but so much harder to live by the example that was set before you of excellence.

Be them.  In the end, you have a choice.  It does not matter what your job is, who your family is, where you come from, or what your circumstances are in life, you still have a choice.  You have a choice to live a life that is selfish and focused on yourself or to live a life that is selfless and focused on others.  The terrorists made their choice; it was one of complete and total selfishness.  Some of the people who lost their life on that day did not have a choice; rather it was stolen from them.  But some of the people who lost their life on that day did have a choice; it was one of selflessness.  You too have a choice in how you live your life.  Are you going to be selfish like the terrorists or selfless like the heroes?

What a true monumental day 9/11/01 would be if the long-term outcome was a nation filled with individuals who became selfless instead of selfish.  For a few years following that day, there was a glimmer of hope that selflessness would be the final outcome however as the events of that day turn more selfish and focused on remembering where you were instead of remembering who perished, the hope faded.  But you still have a choice; you can choose on this Patriot’s Day to remember others and the sacrifices they gave and continue to give or you can choose instead to remembering yourself and how you felt.  Choose wisely because the outcome will determine the destination of our next generation.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Out of Troubles Comes Wisdom in the Briefness of Life

She was beautiful, intelligent, successful, witty, and cunning but at 29 years old, she committed suicide.  How could someone who had so much going for herself, who seemed to love and live life to the fullest, who had such a strong faith in God, and who gave so completely to her friends and work commit the ultimate act in selfishness?  No one would ever describe her as selfish; even those who did not like her respected her ability to give selfishly to others.  Yet she chose the defining moment in her life to be a selfish act and knowingly wrote about it in her last letter.  Worse yet, her death also meant an immediate death for her unborn child turning her suicide into a homicide.  For those whom she left behind it imprinted a scar so deep that despite all efforts to conceal it, it remains a permanent reminder of the fragility of life.

There are some moments in your life that you can recall every last detail as if it were yesterday and for her friends and family, each one can tell you about the moment they discovered she was gone.  They can speak of the immediate shock of disbelief, the intense spike of anger, the deep massive whole of sadness, and the crushing blow of defeat.  Questions like, “Why didn’t I take that last call from her” or “How could someone who believes in God do this” or just plain “Why” spiral around with the strength of a tornado wiping out all ability to make sense out of the tragedy.  And yet those tumultuous moments which destroy everything in their wake also serve to highlight the most important things of life.

Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses which begins with praise, exalts God’s sovereignty, acknowledges the frailty of man, implores us to confession, and concludes with petitions for living.  The Psalm summarizes the purpose of life by asking for success in reflecting God’s glory to the next generation. Verse 12 pleads, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom”.  There is no greater lesson in the brevity or briefness of life than to see it cut short long before its expected time.  For those surviving after such a tragedy, it is an imprint on their life which is never forgotten.

And it should not be forgotten.  Too often the desire to run from remembering the tragedy because of the massive emotional toll even years later outweighs the importance of remembering the wisdom gained from such an experience.  Moses begged the Israelites to remember how God delivered them from slavery, how He provided for their every need, and how He protected them from harm.  But it was easier for them, like us, to forget His former mercies in light of new pressing difficulties.  Remembering those who have passed before us is not about wallowing in sorrow rather it is about remembering the value of every life no matter how short or tragic the ending.  This wisdom is wasted on the old as they are all too well aware of the briefness of life but it is of great value to the young.  So share your wisdom, it just might extend a life a bit longer.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.