Editor: On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, across the Long Island Sound from my Stamford, CT, 10th floor office, I witnessed black smoke bellowing across the New York City skyline.
Twenty years ago, a total of 2,977 innocent people were taken from us in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA, during the most horrific attack on our homeland in our nation’s history. As painful as those events were, we call upon the shadows of our memories to honor those lost in the September 11th attack.
On this, the 20th anniversary of the attack, as Americans we have the responsibility to lift our resolve to remember our fallen countrymen. Each of us in our own way will honor the memories of those who were taken too soon. It is our solemn duty on this remembrance, and during our quiet moments of reflection, to pay homage to our aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, wives, husbands, neighbors, friends, and colleagues who never returned home.
The heinous events of 9/11 have changed us forever as a nation, and even as individuals. We have become more vigilant, more alert, more cynical, more suspicious, and maybe even more hardened. Measures taken to make us more secure and safe have inconvenienced our lifestyle. However, such measures don’t define us as a nation.
Despite the spineless 9/11 attack, what really defines us is:
- Showing compassion for the less fortunate.
- Taking the time to comfort a colleague during a hectic workday.
- Extending common courtesies and social graces, such as greeting each other with a sincere “good morning”, or simply being patient as an elderly gentleman makes his way through a crosswalk.
- Acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversities that have historically been an integral part of the fabric of our country.
The daily application of such virtues will honor the memories of the fallen. It will make them proud, and, in the process, will strengthen our bond and commitment to one another as Americans.
As a result of this dark chapter in our history, we are summoned as citizen ambassadors to embrace a more loving, caring, and compassionate world. May our remembrance be enriched by those we lost, the heroism of those who fought back so valiantly, and the first responders who administered to and rescued the injured. We are forever bound to their legacy. Our nation’s response to the events of that day is what truly makes us proud to be Americans. In tribute, let us continue to embrace, nurture, and embellish their example.
Leeroy A. Gandy, Leesburg