There are some moments in your life that no matter how much time passes, you can remember with unbelievable clarity. Twelve years ago, I was inexplicably bustled into a nearby classroom and 30 confused fourth graders huddled around a TV screen to watch the news. Stunned, and barely comprehending what we were watching, we couldn’t blink as we watched United Airlines flight 175 crash into the south tower. The day had such a profound impact on us, as individuals and as a nation.
But though I have such perfect clarity of the boy who sat next to me comparing the impossibility of the September 11th attacks to his newest video game, distance makes the graphic, harrowing footage of the attacks seem fuzzy. And though reliving such a day can seem almost physically painful, it is vital. It is crucial that we remember not just the lives that were lost and the heroes that were found, but what actually happened.
I still count 9/11 among the tragedies to which I have bared witness, and its images haunt the same corner of my mind as do images of the genocide in Darfur or the more recent pictures emerging from the fighting in Syria. And though, each of these examples (and countless others) is unique, the human reaction to seeing others in pain is just the same. And 9/11 can remind us why we should work to prevent such pain from ever being felt again. Whether it be from human rights violations, an unfair war or terrorist attack, humanity deserves to be protected.
I encourage you to watch the footage, or browse through some images. But, I understand if its not something you feel capable of doing. So, I encourage you to remember the past, and then look toward the future.