Status after status appeared on Facebook’s feed today stating, “Never Forget” and “We will remember”. Political rants came to a screeching halt (for a few hours at least) as the world united under an umbrella of sorrow and reflected on the day of horror that shook America to its very core eleven years ago.
People posted pictures like the one above (by Clementine and Galaxy) and expressed thoughts, prayers and condolences to not one person in particular, but all affected by the tragedy. The trend of posting what a person was doing when they first heard the news caught on and by early afternoon friends were aware of each other’s whereabouts on 9/11/01. I was almost moved to make a post of my own, but couldn’t find words that seemed to fit. Nothing I typed looked right and I just had an uneasy feeling that I couldn’t shake. With two of my girls grasping for attention in the background, I realized that it was time to step away from the computer and sort my thoughts.
Enter, stage left, the double jogging stroller.
A few strides into the run I was hit with a revelation (and a few moments later, by a sippy cup thrown downwind by my one year old). Many of us honor the fallen victims of September 11th. Almost everyone acknowledges the heroic actions of those that dropped everything to run to the hopeful rescue of those inside the towers, but most of us neglect to see the heroism in the people that are mixed in right beside us. Sure we feel sorry for them, we mourn for them, but do we appreciate them for the heroes that they are? Can we even begin to understand the kind of strength it takes to continue on this journey of life without someone that was stripped away from us so suddenly? We post statuses and hope they hear our whispers of comfort, we offer prayers and words of sympathy, but that is all we know how to do. That is almost all that we can do. You can make a donation in someone’s honor, you can visit the Ground Zero to commemorate the loss, but you know what you can’t do? You can’t fill the empty space that lies next to the widow or dull the ache of a motherless child. You can’t bring back the voice of the sister who used to comfort her younger sibling when life threw it’s curveballs. You can’t bring back the friend that was always there or the child that should have outlived his father. There is no medicine strong enough to cure the hurt and no human that can fill the void. It is a bottomless ocean of pain, an unending agony that each victim wakes up to over and over while the rest of the world goes about its day.
So while we celebrate the hero that directed the plane away from its target and hail the firemen who risked their lives on that awful day, let’s not forget the heroes that lived through the unimaginable pain of seeing their loved one jump from a building to escape the heat of the flames, or the ones that heard the voice of their frantic spouse before he was taken away from them forever. These people that wake up, get out of bed, and put one foot in front of the other, day after day, are the unsung and often quiet heroes that continue to live a story that most of us closed the cover of eleven years ago.
Press on, living victims and heroes of that horrific day.
We will never forget.