A Year Ago – Reflections on 9/11

Phil Holberton

Phil Holberton

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I found myself weeping the other day as I read the letter from my sixth-grade son’s school telling us of the elaborate preparations they have taken to be ready for tomorrow. They will have an all-school meeting and the school psychologist will be available for the kids and their parents. They are taking every precaution to be sensitive to the possible anxiety and unsettling behaviors that might ensue.

As I flash back to last year, my oldest son was 50 yards from ground zero in an adjacent building. He has now relocated to Denver and started a new life with his wife. Over Labor Day weekend, he was visiting with us in New Hampshire, celebrating our family life together. At one point, we were having a discussion and on the television was a reference to 9/11. He still has memories burned into his mind (I’m sure they will never leave) that caused him to have an emotional outburst. I didn’t fully understand it then, but on reflection, it makes sense. After all, terrorists invaded his and our collective lives, changing us forever.

We had a spirited debate at the dinner table about American civil liberties and whether we, as a nation, are going too far to limit our freedom in the interest of nailing the terrorists. On one hand, my father-in-law thinks we are going too far in limiting our freedom—forever taking away our civil liberties. My son, on the other hand, thinks we should search and destroy until we find the perpetrators. I guess if I had been 50 yards away, I’d feel the same way.

It is difficult to return to a normal life after a traumatic event like this happens. All loss needs to be mourned and this was a tremendous loss, by any measure. Mourning will occur for a long time and it may take years for many to understand the implications of this tragic event. I know I need to be more tolerant with those who are especially affected by the aftermath of September 11th.

When an event like this happens, do you feel like all the good you do in your lives is not really worth it or do you redouble your efforts and press ahead even more vigorously? I suggest we look at the world as it can be, the possibilities for a safe and happy world, one where we can live in harmony with each other. When you go home tonight, turn to the person closest to you and give them a big hug. After all, this is what living is all about.

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