When Americans hear the word infamy, I am certain many of us call to mind the words uttered just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor…”a day that will live in infamy.” And yet today is the eve of the anniversary of another infamous day- one that seems as tangibly close and horrifying 17 years later as it did on September 11th, 2001. When those of us who were alive on September 10th 2001 put our heads to rest that night, little did we know our lives, our sense of security, our very country and our presence in global society would be shaken to the core in less than 24 hours. And yet, on that sunny morning 17 years ago, it took less than a half hour for the world as each of us knew it to crumble into dust- never ever to be the same again.
Tragedy- each of us have known it in our personal lives, in our shared experiences with others and for those who have bravely served our country in the armed forces, served our cities as fire or police officers, have seen it on a more expanded level. However, the tragedy of September 11th was insurmountable, unfathomable, and for many of us, still fresh enough in our minds to move us to tears and heartache on this day and into tomorrow. Two years ago, my very second blog as Head of School focused on the fact that the incoming 9th graders, now juniors at SDA were born into a world where September 11th was already a historical event. And two years later, more and more young people have joined our world, a world where the events of 9/11 are read about in history texts or talked about in the past tense and this current world, where terrorism at home and abroad has become sadly all too common is the world in which our children live today.
They did not know the peace that all of us carried in our hearts the evening of September 10th 2001. We ourselves did not know the peace we carried inside of us on that date; for we never realized it could be taken from us in such a violent and terrible way. We, you and I both, took things for granted- meeting someone at the airport gate, eating at Windows on the World, feeling safe on a flight to Florida or California or wherever else our whimsical travels took us. More than those things, which I do miss, what I know I took for granted was the fact that my daughter, then not even a twinkle in my eye, would live in a safe and peaceful world; a world that while not perfect, was certainly not a world filled with violence, terror, fear and hatred. And yet, 17 years later for many of us that is the daily world in which we live.
Oh it’s not prominent- we have learned as all humans learn, to adjust our mindsets, our actions, our very ways of life. We’ve met our new world with a sense of resignation and acceptance. Just ask yourself, how many times have you uttered the sentence “This is the world we live in now.” I know I have said it on many occasions. Do I feel every day that we, as a people, as a country, as a member of global society are in mortal danger? No- not every day. However, am I much more fearful than I was on this date 17 years ago? Yes, I am and I suspect yes, so are many of you.
It’s a heartbreaking date in our history, a heartbreaking memory for all who lived through it and not only because of the sheer enormity of senseless death and destruction. It’s heartbreaking because of how it has changed us, shaken us, literally to the core. There is no going back to the peace we once had- there is only learning daily to live with the fears of today and to try and not let fear overtake our hearts, minds and souls.
To continue to teach and preach peace, love, acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness is an unending task; one that all Americans must take on and work to showcase. Our young children know no other world than this one- and so we have to build, not the sense of peace that once existed, but perhaps a new one- for each of our children so that the fear we have carried with us for 17 long years will not engulf their hearts and stop them from believing in a more peaceful earth.