Today I walked into my son’s room during a virtual class. They were just beginning their lesson and the discussion was on tomorrow being the anniversary of 09/11. I was quietly trying to set up a different laptop for him to work on (the school one is being a pain staying connected) and I heard his instructor state that they were about to watch a video on 09/11 and that they were welcome to put their heads down or turn away and not watch if they felt the need. Now, before I go any further, let me state something: we adore this teacher, and what I’m about to write is nothing towards or against her. My son and I both think very highly of her, and we understand why she has to now give these “warnings”. So I’ll continue…when I heard that they could “put their heads down and turn away” I was annoyed. Why you ask? Because there shouldn’t be a single time that an American, or anyone who wants to be part of this company, should ever “look away” from what happened on 09/11. I don’t know about you but the images of the planes flying into the World Trade Centers are permanently etched into my brain. Why? Because I chose to never look away.
Over the years, the news has stopped showing the moment the planes hit the building, the people rushing away fearing their lives, the people who decided their best option was to jump from the building to sudden death instead of burning alive with the others. Can you imagine having to make that decision? What would they say to those who now chose to look away? Did they lose their lives for nothing? Let me also say, I understand that there are people who cannot watch this, especially those who may have lost a loved one in the tragedy. It is totally understandable. But, this is something everyone needs to see at least once. Why? So no one ever forgets what happened! We said we would never forget, but how many are starting to forget. How many at the end of the day on 09/11 suddenly go “oh yeah today was 09/11”. If we turn our eyes away from this, what all else are we turning our eyes away from?
You know something else? I can still see the university classroom that I was sitting in when it was announced that the WTC had been hit. I can still picture the next classroom when my professor slowly entered and let us know that her son worked there and she couldn’t get ahold of him. I will never forget the look on her face when the door later opened, and an aide said that he had called, he was running late to work that morning and was safe. I can still see myself sitting in front of my small tv in my apartment after leaving the university and watching the planes hit the WTC over and over and over. Almost all of us from the generations that saw that day, will never forget those images.
So here’s my question to you, what if we just keep turning our eyes away from everything? Whether it be a monument that is torn down, another crime, a life lost, an injured child. Does it make it go away? No of course not. But instead, it’s time we open our eyes and look at what all is standing in front of us and decide which side we are on. It’s time we keep our eyes wide open to what is being destroyed around us.
I live not far from Gettysburg. I’ve been on the battlefields many of times. Would tearing down the monuments of the Confederacy stop what happened at Gettysburg? Of course not! The blood shed that happened there, for the reasons it happened, will always be embedded into the ground. We cannot take down a monument and expect the past to change. We don’t have to “worship” at a monument, but we need to remember there is a history as to why it’s there and think about how it shaped us as humans, and as Americans. There are monuments everywhere we turn, from a simple gravestone, to the Washington Monument. Taking them away, doesn’t change anything, we can’t change the course of history. But we can remember that that history helped to get us here today, the good and the bad parts.
Do we close our eyes to the news of how many children have been rescued from human trafficking in just the past month? Why isn’t this huge on the news?!?!?! Can you image how many parents have now received the incredible news that their child has been found? I pray for peace for all of them because the horrors that these families have gone through will take a long time to heal, and I hope they do. But never, should we ever look away from what these children have suffered through. We learn from it. Hopefully the amazing team that is rescuing these children are learning how this horrible thing happened, and we can take that knowledge and history and do our best to make it stop.
If you take anything away from this writing, and I know it’s a little drawn out and all over the place, I want you to close your eyes and picture one thing. I want you to picture the days after 09/11 when we as a nation came together. Picture those first responders working around the clock to find every survivor trapped in the rubble, and do their best to return a lost loved one to the family who was waiting for any news. I ask you to picture how we, as a country, as the United States of America, came together to help support each other. We need that from every side of the aisle right now. We need this nation to come together and remember we are all Americans, instead of tearing her apart.
Let me close with one last thing, it doesn’t matter to me what Presidential candidate you are picking, or if we disagree on a million political-driven opinion, what does matter to me is that we are kind to one another. What matters to me is that we learn from what has happened in our past, and that we grow from it. What matters is that we find a way to find a common ground for the good of human life, this country, and each other. Don’t turn your head away just because it isn’t what you want to see. Look at what is out there and see where you can help. Just don’t look away.