Redefining September 11th
Today marks the 11th anniversary of what surely has to be the most shocking events of my own life, a day where thousands of our fellow citizens died and a day where the world, quite literally, changed forever.
Every year when this day comes around there is a pressure on those of us who write for blogs like these to mark the date with a commentary, with observations of some kind, with words of wisdom or thoughts for the future. Given the significance of the events it is certainly appropriate to mark the day but as I have watched it draw closer I have found myself increasingly uncertain about what to say.
I mean what is there to say ? We all know it was a terrible day and that it has had consequences that will likely last for the rest of our lives and perhaps even the lives of the youngest among us now.
I could start up the tired old debate over who, if anyone, should bear the blame. We could have the back and forth threads between those who want to blame Bush or want to blame Clinton or who want to blame them all.
But would that really do any good ? Certainly few minds would be changed and much bad blood would be spilled.
We could also debate the merits of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but again it would seem little good would come out of there. The same seems to apply to any real discussion of things like the Patriot Act. They are discussions and debates we’ve all had before.
I considered also the idea of taking the route of remembering the day, of recalling my own memories and asking you to offer your own thoughts, but I think many of us are tired of such activities.
It’s not to say that we don’t honor those who died but there is a point where you have to move past the remembering and go forward with the doing. You don’t forget the day, but you there is a point where the way you remember changes.
In the end I finally came to the conclusion that there really isn’t anything new for me to say and perhaps that is fitting, we should all remember this day in our own way and I’m not sure that writing about it more will help to make our own personal reflections better.
Instead I thought that perhaps it really is time to redefine the day. We won’t forget what happened but maybe we need to change what we do about it. There are already calls on days like these to do good works, to donate to charity but they always seem secondary to the need to watch the videos, talk about the day, etc.
But after 11 years it is time for that to change. In many ways that day in 2001 was like a death in the family and when you lose a loved one there is a sort of timeline to how you deal with the death. You start out mourning then move to a more reflective attitude and finally make the transition into mode where you still remember but you do so in a different way.
There are many good charities out there and there is no better day to give to them. Perhaps one of the best things we could do is change this day from being a day of looking back to a day for looking forward. A day where we give of our time and our hearts as well as our wallets.
How better to honor those who were lost than to help those who need.
Here are a few links for you to consider.
One Boy USO is a wonderful charity run by an amazing young boy who works to raise funds to send gifts and supplies to our troops in the field. He wasn’t even alive in 2001 but has probably done more for the troops than many of us
Charity Navigator is a great resource for finding a charity that helps the cause you are interested and gives you assurances that the charity is honest.
The Huffington Post put up this article last year, listing a series of charities you can give to.
And of course you don’t need to just give money, you can give your time to a local group or donate to a local blood bank. Certainly there is a focus on 9/11 related charities but there is no reason that you cannot help any group or organization that you feel worthy.