Like many Americans I have been doing some reflecting as 9-11 approaches. I do so every year. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the terrible attacks that occurred in New York, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania. There is much coverage of the events of that day and its repercussions. While it may seem excessive at times make no mistake, ten years is a significant milestone both in terms of time and psychological effect. Please mark the day with respect and solemn introspection, but also with the resolve not to let the acts of a handful of fanatics rule the course of your lives.
My brother Bob died in a swimming accident when he was but 20 years old. The event shattered all of us, but perhaps hit my mother hardest of all. There is no greater pain than for a parent to lose a child. For her the events of August 2nd 1963 were just as devastating as the events of September 11 2001 were for the Nation, albeit at a much smaller scale. Mom found it quite hard to cope with the new reality that her oldest son was forever gone. Still she had four other children, a husband, and a house to manage so she continued on as best she could. People were amazed at her resilience. When asked about it she would simply say, “Life goes on.”
My mother never forgot the pain of losing her son – is was a heartache that followed her to the grave. Two dates forever caused her pause: Bob’s birthday of September 26th, and the fateful date of August 2nd. Some anniversaries were harder to face than others – “Bob would be 21 today,” she said on his birthday, just about two months after he died. The following year it was, “It’s hard to believe Bob’s been gone a year already.” Then after a decade, “Bob would be 30 this year.” All very somber moments indeed, as it is now for our Nation.
While Mom never forgot the loss of her son, neither did she let it rule her life. After a period of grieving she went on, raised her remaining children, reentered the work force, traveled, and enjoyed her grandchildren. America and Americans should never forget the events of 9-11, just as we should never forget the events of December 7th 1941. But we must as a nation refuse to be ruled by them. As my mother would say, “Life goes on.”