By Naomi Yakawich
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
The late Sandy Dahl shared these words after the passing of her husband, Flight 93 pilot, Jason Dahl who, along with nearly 3,000 people, lost their lives unexpectedly on September 11, 2001. Time will pass but the world will never forget everything we lost and gained together on that day now fourteen years in the past.
We witnessed the heroism of men and women who stared death in the face with courage because they chose to serve a purpose bigger than life itself. Today, the world will remember the sacrifice and untimely passing of loved ones through quiet memorials and loud demonstrations of service for their fellow man. Despite our differences, our various ethnicities, religious beliefs, cultures, and traditions, we share a vision to make our global community safer, stronger, and more peaceful for the sake of preserving our humanity.
More than 1,000 delegates from over 115 countries exhibited their enthusiasm for this vision when they participated in this year’s International Young Leaders Assembly held in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, culminating in a high-level plenary at the United Nations in New York City last August.
During the ten day program, IYLA ambassadors from around the world and across the United States had the opportunity to visit the memorial site of 9-11’s ground zero. Though a somber visit, the young leaders were equally touched by the tragedy, the beauty, and the hope for a world that can look past everything we don’t have in common to the core values that makes us a global family.
Greg Rheault, a Student Engagement Director at George Washington University and speaker at the IYLA forum at the World Bank, reminded these young representatives of their responsibility to become leaders with both a moral and innovative capacity. “Leadership is love,” Rheault said. He further encouraged the delegation telling them that as we look towards the positive change we wish to create right now we must remember that we are all human beings that share in the reality of the state of our world. “Remember that we are all in this together.”
“This world doesn’t need more compromise. It needs your purest heart and constant action.”
Lincoln Fu, an IYLA ambassador from China, called on leaders everywhere, young and old, to remember and stand for their dream with passion, no matter how grand.
“Many people believe that as we grow up we should just forget about our childish dreams because it is too far away. But the truth is: the dream itself is never as impossible as we think it is. It is always our self who runs away from our own dream. Politicians start making lies just to get your vote. Businessmen sometimes lower moral standards just to get their views out. All the time we’ve been making compromise for our own dream. But this world doesn’t need more compromise. It needs your purest heart and constant action. Take a look at each other. All of you are going to become leaders of your own dream; the experts of different areas. No matter where we go and what we do, please never forget who we are and who we want to be. Only then can we really say we have a dream. Only then can we say we are making a better world.”
There is so much left to do. There is so much we have to offer the world. Time is a rare commodity, so how will we spend it?
“Remember the darkness of our past to inspire the brightness of our future.”
More in remembrance of loved ones and heroes: 9-11 Towards Hope and Healing.