Sitting before my keyboard with hands trembling, I cannot seem to bring myself to write about the events surrounding September 11, 2001. It's only been ten years; I'm simply not ready. Still, at this moment in time, I can't fathom writing about anything but the events surrounding that day. Just as singer/songwriters are compelled to compose songs, television producers to create documentaries, doctors to spend hours researching the effects of those days physically and emotionally on their patients, writers are compelled by something within to write about that fateful day. And so I write, because I must.
If I have difficulty speaking of those events even now, I wonder how others must feel. And yet, if we are unable to write or speak about the events of September 11, how can we pass them down in such a way that our children, and our children’s children, will remember them, will remember the heroes that sacrificed their lives to save countless others? Can we explain those life-changing moments in history to our children if we don’t fully understand them ourselves?
My mind wanders back to the days following the September 11 attacks. To the visceral fear that seemed to surround every moment. To the many funerals, the nightmares, the frightened, clinging children, the anthrax attacks, the lost innocence, to the feeling that our world would never again be the same.
Then, in my mind's eye, I turn the corner, to streets lined with American flags. Airport terminals filled with standing ovations as exhausted troops walk by. Neighbors looking out for one another. Strangers chatting with strangers on street corners. Hopeful children skipping down sidewalks. Patriotism at an all-time high.
Such is the legacy of September 11, 2001: that good can - and must - conquer evil. As Edmund Burke once said, “All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.” As Americans, we must never be content to do nothing; we must not shy away from opportunities to speak or write about the events that form our nation’s history.
We must never forget.