Yesterday was a particularly tear-filled day. I began by watching the memorial from New York with Paul Simon singing Sound of Silence. I concluded with James Hanlon’s 9/11 documentary, narrated by Robert De Niro.

You could say it was a day of remembrance for the world. It felt particularly close to home for me. I was born about 8 miles from what is now known as “Ground Zero.” My immediate family remained in the area. My dad passed away 2 and half months before the attacks. I imagine much of the crying I did that day was still purging the pain of his loss. I recall thinking “I’m glad he didn’t see this.”

What’s most striking to me now are not the nearly 3000 casualties of the day, but the larger devastation to the many thousands of first responders and their families. The number of people afflicted with respiratory illnesses and cancers from the toxic dust exponentially expands the enormity of the damage.

60 Minutes reported about Dr. Benjamin Luft who has documented the stories of people from all walks of life who rushed to Ground Zero to help. Many video vignettes are available on their Overtime website. One I found poignant was Construction Supervisor John Feal.

For me, one theme that emerged was the sense that 9/11 happened yesterday. Although people have done various amounts of work and healing, it wasn’t over and it wasn’t going away. I tend to be one to look on the bright side and I find that negative emotions can be a burden. I saw places in my life where wounds remain raw and it may be useful to acknowledge the pain lingers. Your hurts and mine may pale in comparison to those we saw documented yesterday. Perhaps we can still learn from them something about accepting the pain and moving forward with greater compassion.

The big takeaways for me are about the exceptional resilience of human beings, the central importance of family, and the preciousness of life.

As I think about where I would like us to be a year from now, it’s evident that there is still a large industry selling fear. Let’s not buy it. The best we can do is to evolve our own individual consciousness, and as much as possible, move toward love.

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