That’s what everyone is posting today. Hashtags abound as the entire nation reflects on a shimmering September morning seventeen years ago when disaster struck in the form of maliciously-guided airplanes.
Once in the north tower.
A second time in the south tower.
A third time in the Pentagon.
A fourth time in a Pennsylvania field.
And many times over in the prejudices so many Americans now harbor against people who don’t share our views.
“Never forget!” we cry. “Remember September 11th!”
Yes, please. Let’s remember September 11th. Let’s remember the people who lost their lives for doing nothing more sinister than going to work that day, or for getting on an airplane, or for just going about their regular routines. Let’s remember the spouses and children and parents who still suffer the gut-wrenching loss of someone they loved with their very soul. Remember them, grieve them, celebrate them, and carry on–for them.
Let’s especially remember the first responders and the ordinary people, heroes all, who turned toward danger when all odds were against them. Let’s remember how they raced into smoke and flames and blood and gore to save anyone they could, without regard for race, religion, nationality, or political affiliation. Let’s remember the day we were reduced to our very humanity and wanted nothing more than to help somehow, some way.
#NeverForget should not become a rallying cry for hatred and intolerance. (Isn’t that what redirected those airplanes in the first place? I can still hear my mom saying ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right!’) Instead, I choose to not forget the selflessness that took over so many people in a moment of unimaginable crisis. #NeverForget is my catalyst to do the right thing, to make the world a better place, to build bridges instead of walls.
Don’t get me wrong. Bad people committed unspeakable horrors on September 11th. There is no excuse, and we must work to eradicate the terror-mongering that holds people hostage to fear. But that also means we have to surrender our own tendency to react to others out of fear just because they look, act, or think differently. Accepting others doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.
We can’t sacrifice our humanity for the sake of our existence.
Live in peace. React in love. Help whenever you can. Never forget.