Today marks the 16th anniversary of September 11th. I will always remain grateful for the officers, firefighters, city officials and now utility workers that are out in the streets today working tirelessly to keep us safe in the wake of this storm, as they were 16 years ago.
September 11th. I remember the conversations I had in the immediacy of the knowledge of the attack. The fear of the unknown was palatable. After checking in with family, I called a childhood friend that worked for a Congressman in DC. A moment of relief washed over me, as I heard his voice answer the call. He answered,“What happened?!” He had just deboarded a plane. Together we pieced together the news of what had just occurred.
Even amongst the brave, widespread fear had settled in the hearts of Americans. I recall a sign posted with red solo cups on a nearby private school for Muslim children. This was not a declaration of a “DRUG FREE SCHOOL” or a push for their local “PTA”. Their sign read, “WE LOVE THE USA”. This was their white flag declaring we are not them – the extremists, the terrorists.
We survived the attacks of September 11th as a nation. The by-product was a sense of unity during this season, a unity our nation desperately needed at the time. The enemy lost again.
On this September 11th, we remember the fallen, the brave, the thousands of lives lost 16 years ago and the families that lost them. Today we begin our own restoration in light of the natural attack we just endured. In the absence of a personified target to blame – our focus is still on rebuilding and restoration…and formulating a new foundation.
As Floridians we took heed of the destruction this type of danger brought to Houston just weeks prior with Hurricane Harvey. Although we had been down this road before with Wilma and Andrew and those in between, the dodging that we had been blessed with in recent seasons, did not seem promising this time. We evacuated out-of-state, to shelters or bunkered down in homes shielded by shutters and hurricane proof glass to ride out the prolonged symphony of rains and the taunting pervasive winds. Alarms pierced through our homes in the wee hours to prepare us to brace for the strikes. We prepared for the worst and prayed desperately for the best.
The storm has passed. Miraculously we made it through, given its true potential. Our hurricane season is not over though ––it has actually given birth to yet another season of opportunity for bridge building. Beneath the distractions our world may bring, lays the spirit of humanity. The spirit that compels us to not just see, but in times like these, earnestly seek those in need and find a way to meet it. During these times strangers become neighbors, neighbors become friends and friends become family.
Let’s make the most out of this opportunity to give back. Enroll with your local Red Cross, connect with a food bank or homeless shelter. Join forces with your local church or synagogue that are collaborating to provide relief to ourselves stateside and to the surrounding islands ravaged by this storm. Feed a firehouse, police station, bless a utility worker, meet your neighbors :).
I would love to hear your stories of community and connection in the days and weeks to come. In a time when we sensationalize divide, let’s override the system with stories of humanitarian pride.
Praying safety for you all!