Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: We fall down, and we get up

Facebook is filled with reflections this morning, this 9/11 day.

This is evidence of what I love most about America - well really, Americans.  We reflect.  We ask questions.  We speak freely.  We rage, sometimes against the machine, and nobody stops us.  We are thinkers because we are free to think our own thoughts.

Yet even though we think our own thoughts, we hold the same values by and large, like all successful families do.  We do this regardless of our political bent, regardless of whether or not we have succeeded in living these values.  Faith.  Family.  Work.  Others.  Freedom.  Country.

America is also a resilient nation, on the whole.  We are resilient individual Americans born of resilient stock.  Otherwise, we wouldn't be here, in this place called America. In fact, there would be no America at all.  When we fall down, we get back up.  Either personally or with our families, either first in our generation or descended from a line, we have come, or been brought here, or been born Native into this earth and hung on here, because we are resilient.  We are all descendants of a people who have survived great odds, wherever we, or they, may have come from.

And we continue to survive successfully because we are people of action.  The common thread of our reflections, whatever may have come, is WHY are things as they are, and what am I going to DO about it to make it better?  We talk it over, friends even sometimes without meeting.  And then we take action, one by one, one at a time and together.  We are people of action, we Americans, and we demand of ourselves that our action be for good.

Josephine Harris, the resilient grandmother who survived Stairwell B, said once as she reflected on that day, "There was no time for cryin'."  Time only for surviving, believing, praying, climbing, and living to bring hope to others.  Time to lean on the gallant firefighters of Ladder 6, who ignored the grit in their eyes and their bruised and broken limbs and their own panic, and focused on saving Josephine and each other.

Today, in remembering 9/11/01, there is time to cry, and there is time to reflect.  We reflect on Americans at their best,  Americans in the act of sharing values and surviving together, against all odds.  To look terror in the face and to stand up anyway is the heart of heroism.  That is what Americans do because it's who we are, and I thank God that I am a member of this family.

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