September 11th, 2001 was a defining moment in all of our lives. It is a day that we, as a country, and we, as people, will never forget. This day in history is one that holds great sadness, great anger, and great anguish; but also great promise.
14 years ago today, Al-Qaeda launched one of the largest acts of terrorism against the United States. Four hijackings, four crashes, and over 3,000 lives lost made our world seem broken. They had destroyed our Twin Towers, marred our Pentagon, and attempted to obliterate the White House. We lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. We had been violated in our own country and we felt vulnerable.
But wretched or not, angry or not, petrified, distraught, troubled or not, we stood strong in the face of this adversity. And with all that emotional upheaval the one thing we could always cling to was that we were not hopeless. We cleared the rubble, sobbed for our losses, prayed for healing, and slowly but resolutely rebuilt our lives.
We are a people full of hope, life, and liberty. Even in the midst of a hijacking our countrymen did not give up and instead thwarted the plan to crash United Airlines Flight 93 into the White House. After the New York skyline was disfigured, we created a new one. While we may have feared for our safety, we continued to live our lives and have continued to live our lives with the same gusto that built this great nation. September 11th, 2001 was a moment that changed America, but as a country built from adversity, it became one more formative event that has shaped us into the people that we are.
As proof of our ability to stand up and keep moving this November will be the first anniversary of the opening of the Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center. The original World Trade Center was built by David Rockefeller after his uncle, Winthrop Aldrich, headed an agency dedicated to the concept “World Peace through Trade” imagined at the 1939 World’s Fair. The concept was lofty and idealistic, the epitome of the American Dream. These towers would be beacons of peace through business and comradery between countries. This shone through not only in their conception but also in their existence. While the Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for less than a year, they were often the sites of inconceivable stunts. In August 1974 Philippe Petit walked a high wire between the two towers. In May 1977, George Willig earned himself the nickname of “the Human Fly” by scaling his way to the top of the south tower using homemade climbing devices. The towers were an illustration of the pioneering spirit of America and reminded everyone who saw them that ideas could become realities. When they fell their message did not fall with them and now the One World Trade Center stands, the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, at 1,776 feet.
We Americans are a resilient people. We are cheeky and innovative, yet caring and compassionate. On this 14thanniversary of September 11th, please take the time to remember the sacrifices, the fear, the sadness, and the loss. At the same time, take great pride in acknowledging the strides we have taken to recover from this disaster. And especially remember the promise of a nascent country back in 1776 to cherish and hold dear the concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Finally, remember that we grow in strength and purpose every day. And that at the end of the day, for all the tragedy and triumph, we as a nation will always have hope and our irrepressible spirit!
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