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Sixteen Years Later

I know it's probably not as often as I believe, but is it always a high, cloudless, light blue sky on this morning, every year? This morning's, with the sun and the moon both visible, brought back memories, both awful and promising.

 I don't normally post about this and actually, I normally don't post at all on this day, but it's the first year that I've felt we're worse off than we were on this day 16 years ago. Obviously, nothing compares to the horrors of that day, but the country, almost immediately, came together. Those on the fringe, have grown into what is now running the country (and media) and while they are still a minority, they are no longer silent. Their hate is bold and brash, mush like the terrorists from a little over a decade and a half ago.

 It's just an odd feeling for me. As someone who grew up peering out my bedroom window at those majestic towers, I commented a long time ago, about a tangible loss of innocence. I remember when I first felt it, knowing this would never be the same. Knowing that some, even some friends, would harbor ill will towards anyone who looked, spoke and practiced a religion that was different from theirs. Before anyone makes judgments, my first experiences were with the far left. Those who needed to lay blame for creating this. Then there were the moderates, whose confusion spoke volumes about a bigger problem in this country; education. Then the right started and we needed to act, and act we did. I, like many, wanted vengeance. Now our children face the debt of that misguided vengeance and the lives lost in response to 9/11 has far outweighed the losses of that day.

Today, we sit in safety. No real fears of this ever happening again. If the opposite were true, North Korea, Russia and ISIS would truly be a the thing that divides us. No, 9/11 simply opened old wounds. Wounds that are not complex, not uncommon, and not difficult to process. That day reminded a small faction of America, that we were built on erasing those who were different and those we chose to cohabitate, would always be seen as inferior. We even drew up documents to depict this, and while those laws and rights have been changed, the words still exist and for many, THAT is the Constitution.

 I think back to a few weeks after that fateful day, when I was talking to someone who was down at Ground Zero, and they described a much different scene than what was being reported on the news. There was of course, a feeling of great loss, but there was a spirit of rebuilding. Not rebirth, because we are what we stand for, no matter what changes. There was a feeling that we could rebuild, change, and make things better. And we had. The following years, saw us bottom out, but we came back and we came back much stronger, much wiser and much more aware of how others perceive us. I remember a day in 2007, when things were bleak economically and there was a new found air of despair. A conversation with an older neighbor, his politics could not have been more different from mine, and he joked "We just need to end these two wars, and we'll get back to hating each other. Things will be better. You'll see." Sadly, despite our presence in Afghanistan continuing, he was half right. We have gone back to hating each other, but are we better?

 9/11 taught most Americans what a Muslim was. As someone who had taken a class on Islam and has actually read the Qur'an, it didn't teach it well. I hope our children, and theirs, will be taught that it isn't the religion that causes violence, it's the misconceptions about religions, within their own, that causes violence. We are a world that is currently living out of context. Whether it be religion, politics or the every day relationships we have. Nearly all our issues stem from something or things being taken out of context. I'm sure some will read this and think "being political on 9/11, how dare you." Well, if you think about the last 16 years, we've had more people use this day, in a political context to promote hate, than to promote the rebuilding, the growth, the acceptance of others and yes, the greatness, we have already achieved and achieved again, long before 2017.

 I want to end with a completely different comment. A thank you. To all those who ran towards the towers, while others ran away. To all those who escorted those in need to safety. To those police, fireman, EMTs and all the others who acted bravely in a time of chaos. For all those who lost their lives, lost loved ones, became ill due to this horrible event and for all those who did what they could. I also want to point out that there are many who saw things they can never forget. Some of saw those images on television, some in person and some, sadly, still see them. It was a day that has become more pageantry than anything else, but let's remember the hurt, but also remember the time that followed. Despite what caused it, it was a better time.


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