Home of the Brave

A message from Fran Allegra, CEO/President of Our Kids of Miami-Dade and Monroe:

In honor of today’s 12th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 attacks, I am re-sending a message I first sent you two years ago and again last year.

The [12th] anniversary of 9/11/01 is upon us.  Like you, I will be taking time [tomorrow], as we did for the past years, to reflect on what happened on that dreadful day and how in one moment our lives and the world changed forever.

Whether we were in New York or thousands of miles away, we were all traumatized by the news of the loss of thousands of innocent people.  The horrific and unprecedented events united all of us.  That day, we all experienced a cascade of emotions once the shock of the horrible events wore off.  Anger, grief, sadness, despair, hopelessness.  As one of my favorite songwriters aptly put it,

“I need you near, but love and duty called you someplace higher. 

Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire.

May your strength give us strength,

May your faith give us faith,

May your hope give us hope,

May your love give us love.”

(Springsteen, Into the Fire)

That day, the burden of history was passed to us to ensure future generations understand what happened.  We have the same sad distinction as generations before us where history changed before us.  Like those that witnessed the starting of a war at Concord and Lexington or the massive casualties at Gettysburg, or the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, we join our ancestors in the chorus of “We Will Never Forget what happened on that terrible day.”

We all will always know exactly where we were when we heard the news.

What Lincoln said in 1863 on a field in Pennsylvania not far from Shanksville, is still amazing, still relevant and still appropriate for the anniversary of our generation’s national tragedy.

“…We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” (excerpt from the Gettysburg Address)

Thankfully, this year’s anniversary will be different.  The World Trade Center is on the rise.  A beautiful and moving memorial appropriate to the scale of this national tragedy will be unveiled.  (For more details, see the Discovery Channel’s documentary “Rising, rebuilding of the World Trade Center”,http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/the-rising/)

brave

To quote NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a recent speech he gave at the site,

“Osama bin Laden is dead, and the World Trade Center site is teeming with new life. Osama bin Laden is dead, and Lower Manhattan is pulsing with new activity. Osama bin Laden is dead, and New York City’s spirit has never been stronger. The construction you see here is a rebuke to all of those who seek to destroy our freedoms and liberties. Nothing will ever return our loved ones – but we are rebuilding from the ashes and the tears a monument to the American spirit.”

This year’s anniversary gives us more hope for the future. It reminds us that while we cannot change the past, we must work in the present to change future. 9/11 was a terrible day. 9/12 must be different, must be better.  The new life at what used to be called Ground Zero can now be called the World Trade Center once again. It gives new meaning to the last line of our National Anthem,

“O say does that banner still wave, over the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Thinking about the events of that dark day, it’s an easy question to answer.

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the NYC memorial site.  It’s heartening to know that it is no longer referred to as “ground zero” and is once again known as the World Trade Center.  It is a moving and beautiful testament to courage and optimism; I encourage you to visit it if given the chance (www.911memorial.org).

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