Am I alone in sensing an uptick in focus on the anniversary of the dreadful terror attacks of 9-11-2001?
Perhaps it’s because the anniversary falls on the calendar on a Tuesday, as did the event.
Perhaps it’s because the nation remains at war in the greater Middle East. The Afghanistan engagement is the longest war in American history.
Perhaps it’s because Americans sense so many divisions among us. Is there a fleeting wistfulness for the sense of shared national identity in the aftermath of 9-11?
We were attacked as America; we came together as Americans.
Sacrifice as the Ultimate Service
Each of those reasons is real. Their resonance may rise or fall amid the rapid coursing of events.
What endures is the inspiration given by individuals who showed courage. The very word is derived from love for others, looking and then acting far beyond concern for oneself.
What endures is the sacrifice, service of the highest order, approaching the sacred.
The roster of heroes is long. Among them:
—Officer Moira Smith, NYPD
—Officer Ronald Bucca, NYFD
Among the striking elements is that they exhibited a degree of character identified by Napoleon:
I have very rarely met with the two o’clock in the morning kind. I mean, unprepared courage, that which is necessary on an unexpected occasion, and which, in spite of the most unforeseen events, leaves full freedom of judgment and decision.
Any such list can be only suggestive. So many sacrificed so much. Individuals honored become symbolic representatives of a much larger group.
Many continue to serve in the aftermath of 9-11. The friends and family and colleagues of the three thousand murdered that day. The many who were injured, including first-responders and others who inhaled toxic fumes. The military personnel deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and other battle zones abroad.
The English Commonwealth of Nations established Remembrance Day in 1919, in the aftermath of the Great War. Poppies are worn in solemn commemoration of the Commonwealth war dead.
9-11 is becoming a day of remembrance in the United States. Remembrance connotes intentional focus, an active stance, incorporating the spirit of past heroism into our present, in order to shape the future with the best of our past.