by Annette Bridges. ©2008. All rights reserved.
The 7th anniversary of what many consider the most abominable tragedy in our nation’s history is upon us — September 11, 2001. Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy.” These words became all too real to America once again seven years ago.I’ve been asking myself — Why should we remember? Not that I’ve ever forgotten!
I remember that morning — as I suspect we all do. I was in bed feeling about as sick as I think I’ve ever felt when my father-in-law called to say a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. So my husband turned on the television. I was lying there watching the news reports when the second plane hit. At that moment we all knew something was terribly wrong, and these crashes were not accident or coincidence. I was sitting up now and had completely forgotten about feeling sick.
With extreme fear of our nation being under attack, I began to make calls to locate our daughter who had left for her freshmen year of college only a couple of weeks earlier. I wished she were home! When we reached her, she was struggling to console her roommate whose dad worked at the Pentagon.
In President Bush’s five-year anniversary speech of September 11th he said, “On 9/11, our nation saw the face of evil.” The “face of evil” is certainly one way to describe the horrors many of us saw on television that day, which many others met face to face. But one cannot think of the heinous acts of 9/11 without also reflecting on the countless and extraordinary acts of courage and compassion that so many people displayed.
It does often seem harder to erase the bad memories and much easier to forget the good. But remembering the good will help us wipe out evil and not allow it to steal our peace, freedom and security.
I can’t help but think of Edmund Burke’s words, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Well, evil didn’t triumph over our nation on September 11, 2001 because good men and women did something! Many courageous men and women responded to their fellow citizens in need. Even though many of their lives were lost, they were given for a purpose and cause greater than their own – all in the fight against evil.
This message by Burke is all the more significant when you consider its source. Edmund Burke was an 18th-century Anglo-Irish statesman, political theorist and philosopher. He served many years in the British House of Commons, and he is largely remembered for his support of the American colonies in the dispute with King George III and Britain that led to the American Revolution. Burke stood up against many other points of debate in his day, even when his stance was not a popular one. He could never be called a man who did nothing in the face of what he thought was wrong!
While I do still mourn the sudden loss of over three thousand fellow citizens on that painful day seven years ago, I embrace their innocence, honor their heroism, and cherish their memory. I will always remember them!
Yes, our nation saw the face of evil. But we also saw the face of good. Our nation would not be brought down and would not be stopped, regardless of the villainy and wickedness that had been aimed at her. It is the faces of good that are important to remember and that I hope I may emulate in my own life.