I will by flying on 9/11 this year, I don’t seem overly concerned by this, just as I’m sure people in Hawaii aren’t concerned about going down to the naval shipyards on December 7th. Dates and history have a funny way to making us do weird things – like not flying a specific day because a number of years ago an unthinkable tragedy happened on that day, so we now know that it’s a possibility it could happen again. So, we schedule are flights for 9/12 thinking somehow it’s safer. It probably isn’t.
I read an article this week that put the tragedy of 9/11 into perspective for me ten years later. The writer is a local Michigan writer, and he relates the 9/11 tragedies with tragedies that many people face at certain times in their life. In Michigan this past spring we had a young man die on the basketball court after hitting a game winning shot, when his heart stopped. It made national news for many weeks, was covered on ESPN as his team went on to play in the state playoffs without their star players and friend. It was heart wrenching (see the Wes Leonard story here). From the CNN article by LZ Granderson:
“I didn’t tell him I loved him or hugged him or anything,” Charles said. “Now I won’t ever get that chance again.”
Sadly I hear some element of that phrase over and over again from mourners reflecting on words left unsaid, gestures not made. And even though we all understand in our heads that tomorrow is not guaranteed, it is so hard to live a life that illustrates that understanding in our hearts.
Over the next several days, our nation will spend a significant amount of time looking back at the morning of September 11, 2001, and how much that event changed us.
We will analyze the war on terror and relive accounts of that day from first responders.
Celebrities will talk about where they were when the towers were struck, experts will look at what we need to do to shore up our security and pundits will pontificate on whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have really made us safer.
Undoubtedly, there will be moments in which it will feel like overkill, and I’m sure some of it will be. But I believe these are important stories to cover, important questions of morality to ask.
However in the midst of this 9/11 media avalanche, we should be careful not to overlook the most important lesson from the attack, and that is not to take life for granted. You never know which day is your last.
Hug your children.
Hold your spouse’s hand.
Call your mother.
Like most people I’m fascinated by all the stories of heroism during 9/11 and I love watching them on TV, and it still today makes me sick to my stomach to watch in horror the planes hitting the towers and the towers coming down. 10 years later it still seems unreal this happened in America. I agree with Mr. Granderson’s take in that many people face tragedy each and every day, and for those who never got a chance to say goodbye, when it seemed like just another day when you left in the morning – what we miss, what we really want back, is that opportunity – the opportunity to tell that person how we feel, to hug them, to tell them we love them. When that is taken away – it’s a personal tragedy for all of us, because you live with that regret forever.
Don’t miss your opportunity today to tell those you love how you feel, take that extra moment to give your wife and kid a hug on the way to work, and stop by and give your HR Manager a hug – G*d knows they need it!