Flags waved. Songs were sung with trembling voices. And people all across the country asked each other to remember where they were the day that the planes hit the towers.
Thousands of lives were lost on September 11, 2001. And in the ten years that have followed, millions more have died or had their lives, their families, their homes, shattered beyond repair by the wars that were fought, and are still being fought, in the name of those attacks.
I can't tell anybody else how to feel about that. I can't tell anybody else what to think about those attacks, and our collective response to them. But I can hope, for myself and my fellow Americans, that as the dramatic images and stirring words of the anniversary fade, we find our way to a place of thoughtful and compassionate reflection. A place of honest reflection. I can hope that we consider everything that happened that morning, and everything that preceded and followed the attacks, with an open mind.
And I hope for those things, because I believe that this is the best way for us to truly honor and respect those that have died. I can hope for those things, because I believe that honest and thoughtful consideration of our place in the world, and of those that we share it with, is the most effective means of limiting the deadly conflict that puts such a tremendous weight on the hearts of so many people around the world.
My own thoughts on the topic are numerous and muddled, and often conflicting. I find it difficult to believe that a world without war is possible, yet I find it immoral and unacceptable that we should strive for anything less. I believe that as Americans, we are guilty of unspeakable atrocities, both historically and in the present moment. I also believe that as Americans, we are responsible for acts of profound beauty, sacrifice, and heroism, both historically and in the present moment. And I believe that those truths, as well as many others, need to be considered in any worthwhile discussion of September 11.
I don't want to elaborate on the specifics of those beliefs right now. Because that's not the point that I'm attempting to articulate here. I simply want to remind myself to thoughtfully consider those beliefs, how I got them, and what impact they might have on myself and those around me. And I want to hope that my neighbors will do the same.
(Below are three pieces that offer viewpoints that I found thoughtful and honest. The first was published about a month after the attacks. It is a long article, but well worth your time. The other two were published yesterday, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. One is a quick read from a faith-based perspective. The other is a four and a half minute video clip discussing the media treatment of the tenth anniversary.)