Bearing Witness: September 11, 2012
I try to make my posts hopeful, or at least positive, but today, my mind is inevitably drawn to the events of eleven years ago in New York. I think most of us have some sort of story, where we were, what we were doing on that fateful Tuesday. I just can’t help but think of my college on the outskirts of Chicago.
I was late, actually. Late to my eight AM American government class. Literally skidding into the room, I wondered why my uptight professor was playing a disaster movie on TV. A couple seconds went by, when I realized that it wasn’t a movie, that this was Real Life. Frozen, I sat down in my chair and stared at the TV.
The rest of the day went by in a blur, sitting with a friend whose father worked three days a week in one of the towers (he was actually at home sick), calling my father only to find out he was evacuated, and just trying to take it all in. I don’t think I realized how much of a defining moment it would be for years to come.
Looking back, and looking forward, I admit I still don’t truly understand the impact and power that September Eleventh has on people. It’s not that power that really makes me step back and think, it’s people’s reactions. In the days and months around the actual event, people came together to hold each other up both physically and emotionally. In the following weeks, the unity that came from the very first few days and weeks cracked, those cracks deepening into an ever-widening chasm between people. What brought us together eventually cracked us apart.
For the dead and the living, we must bear witness ~Elie Wiesel
That quote, one of my favourites, was said about the Holocaust, but I think it applies in so many situations. We talk about the events of September 11 for those who died, but we also need to learn from the things that happened for those who are living. Those of us who remember where we were, who remember how it impacted us, we need to build bridges, to mend the chasm and come together with all different people, no matter who they are, lest history repeat itself.