September 11th, 2001.
Over a decade after this day, the world still remembers. Americans and our brothers and sisters from around the world alike suffered a detrimental loss with the death of nearly 3,000 innocent people at the hands of a senseless crime against humanity. And so, we remember the pain, but we also remember the heroism of the first responders, the strength of a nation, and the love of a world that grieved in unison.
9/11 will live forever in infamy as a day of tragedy, a heart-wrenching sign of the unity we lacked as one human family. Despite suffering such immense loss we can still stand proud, witnesses of heroism and forgiveness, the ultimate sign of courage.
Sandy Dahl, the wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, said, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
We live in a diverse world full of people with different economic and social status, ethnicity, religious beliefs, culture, and traditions. For centuries it was this diversity that drove us apart, instigating terrorism, brutality, and war. We all lost, no matter what group of people “won”.
Our diversity, united under a vision to accomplish a common good, can actually be the very solution to creating lasting peace. The beauty of humanity’s diversity is that we have the innovative capacity to come up with new creative ideas to better mankind because we have our own unique way of thinking. It takes many people, people who are different in every way except one; in the midst of our differences we must agree on the fundamental value of each human. Our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is granted us for the simple reason of being a human being. It is how we use these rights that define us as one human family.
Before we remember what we lost on September 11th, 2001, remember first what we gained, as Americans and as citizens of our global community. That day, people became heroes and leaders. When we move forward, we heal knowing it is not the hate that invigorates our determination for a better future for our children. Rather, it is our love for what makes us human, our capacity to forgive, and a knowledge that we can, that we will, set a new standard for morality even in our darkest moments.
9/11 should be remembered as a day when people came together, taking the time to offer comfort to complete strangers and provide helping hands without expecting anything in return.
So today and everyday, honor the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for a common good, a greater purpose, by giving back to your own community. Volunteering shows you care and that you will stand together with your bigger human family even in the toughest times. Your community needs leaders who can display the same selflessness of the everyday heroes we saw on 9/11 as well as a vision to inspire others to become heroes, too. It is up to you to take ownership of the challenges facing your communities and become leaders with a moral compass.
We are the leaders of today and tomorrow. Will we uphold the basic human values we share and bring the world forward into a better tomorrow? Or will we fall short, falling into our past to repeat a history of violence and suffering?
The answer is up to you.
Remember the darkness of our past to inspire the brightness of our future.