September 11th. Nine eleven. 911. The date we will all never forget.
I don't think there's a single person who was school age and older who is alive today that has forgotten what they were doing, where they were, and how they felt that day nine years ago. It was all so surreal, like a terrible scene in a movie playing out before our eyes. But it was real. There were real people trapped and perishing. Real people missing, loved, searched for. They were fathers and mothers and sisters, daughters, sons. Families left heartbroken forever, all in an instant. It was unfathomable, the pain and confusion and anguish of that day.
But from that complete pain and unbearable loss arose something else, too. There was a surge of unity and brotherhood around the world, as people everywhere shared their grief over the day's great tragedy. On September 11th, we were not American or British or Irish or Russian or Chinese or Mexican or...Iraqi. We were all just "us", one devastated and broken tribe of people who were compassionate to all who had experienced loss, because we all felt deep pain that day. The worst spirit in the world brought out the best spirit in the rest of us. That's the memory that is the most vivid to me.
9/11 is something that my son will learn about in school one day. I'll probably share with him my recollection of my experiences when he's older. But I don't think I'll ever really be able to explain all of it. The sheer magnitude of the emotions of that day are overwhelming, and I don't think that any history textbook or story retelling can ever fully communicate the horror, the sadness, the grief...followed by the resolve, the strength, the international goodwill and united expression of love and compassion worldwide.
My wish is that we would never experience another day like 9/11, and that we could all treat each other every day as if it were 9/12.