It has been 18 years since our country’s heart shattered. Until that morning, we had never imagined that our country could be the target of such a massive attack, at least not since Pearl Harbor. We went to school, work, airports, sporting events and concerts without worry or fear.
All of that comfort left us in the morning hours of September 11, 2001.
Suddenly, we as a nation faced a tragedy unprecedented in our history. We watched as the horror played out on live television, but we also witnessed the heroism. Without hesitation, first responders put their own safety on the line and rushed into the falling buildings to attempt to save as many lives as possible. EMTs didn’t flinch at the thought of the danger they faced while caring for the injured. Many lost their lives trying to save another.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, we witnessed America at its finest. People came together to comfort and aid the victims’ families. Each community, having lost one of their own or not, offered compassion and sympathy. My family received letters, cards and offers of help from caring people across every state in our nation. Teddy bears were sent to children who lost parents or siblings, and companies donated gifts during the holiday season that followed to restore some feeling of normalcy. Quilts were stitched and given to comfort the broken.
Every religious denomination offered prayers and consolation to all Americans. No one bothered to ask your particular faith, but everyone had blessings for those of us who needed them.
My community came together and supported our family along with the other 17 Bucks County families who lost a loved one that September morning. The outpouring of kindness transformed me, so much so that I have been working ever since to find as many little ways as possible to return that kindness through service to my community.
We’ve spent these past 18 years rebuilding, and though we can never return to the lives we had before that morning, moving forward we can work to restore our country’s strength. I’ve seen firsthand what we can accomplish when we stand united. That is our story.
But on this day, as Joshua’s mother, I ask that we take this September 11th to reflect. This year, let us call on our officials and each other to spend this one day treating each other with dignity and respect.
For let September 11th be a day of community - a day of coming together as a nation in unity and compassion. Let this not be a day of name calling or finger pointing, media reports on tweets or divisive speech. It will not be the size of the crowds that matter or the number of people who visit Ground Zero, the Pentagon, Shanksville and our own Garden of Reflection, but the character of our nation as we solemnly remember those we lost and their families.
Judi Reiss, Lower Makefield