Most of us remember where we were on that clear September 11 morning in 2001. We remember the initial shock of seeing the planes crash into the buildings and the unbelievable sight as they collapsed into rubble and dust. Those who were there remember the smell, the taste, the chaos, the doubt, the anguish and the fear that the terrorists might strike again. Friends and loved ones lost. Families shattered...all in a matter of moments. It was a day that brought the country momentarily to its knees and ultimately changed our lives forever. And every September 11 we remember what happened that day, and we honor those who perished in the towers and those who died bravely trying to save them.
Now imagine finding yourself in a situation where 9/11 occurs every single day. Death, destruction, fear, chaos, doubt, shock, anguish and terror are all around you. Friends lost. Lives irrevocably changed. All in a split second of time.
That’s what it is like in countries all around the world. That’s what it is like for the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that is what it has been like for those who have donned the uniform and served our country in battle for over 200 years….9/11 every single day.
We remember and honor those who were lost on 9/11. And well we should. By why do we seem disconnected from those who have served and died just as tragically on foreign shores? Is their loss any less horrific…any less significant?
Perhaps it is because 9/11 occurred here at home; in New York, and Washington and Pennsylvania. Places that we have visited. Places where friends and family live. Maybe that’s why we feel a special connection. Iraq and Afghanistan are strange, foreign lands far, far away. Cities we’ve never heard of. Places we’ve never been.
Does that mean that the men and women who serve in those strange and foreign lands should be any less respected...or their lives any less valued?
As Americans we are all understandably connected in some way to the events of 9/11. But only one percent of us are connected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To the rest of us these wars are a distraction; little more than a 60 second story on the evening news. We take them for granted. That’s sad…and it’s wrong!
We should always remember the events of 9/11 and honor those who died that day. We should also remember that our military men and women serving abroad face the horrors of 9/11 each and every day of their tour. And they do so voluntarily so that the rest of us may never face another 9/11.
So on this Memorial Day take a moment…just a moment…to remember, honor and thank those who risk THEIR lives so that we may live OUR lives free from the horrors of that clear September 11 morning in 2001.