Today I spent time at the World Trade Center memorial. After viewing the ponds, taking pictures of the unfinished Freedom Tower and the other buildings, my daughter and I found stones to sit on and just enjoyed the quiet. She spent time reading the commemorative booklets she'd purchased about 9/11, while I decided it was the perfect time to meditate. First I reached out to feel for those who had passed, and was grateful to only find a deep sense of peace. No pain, no fear, no sense of terror or unfinished business entered my mind. It felt like all of the souls had been gathered gently up and taken on, wrapped in love and light as they went. That was wonderful, and I sent prayers for all of them and their families.
My thoughts then turned to all the heroes of that day, so many with their names inscribed on the edges of the ponds. The first responders, the courageous people in Flight 93, the occupants of the towers that tried their best to help others around them, the people who called their loved ones to convey their love and try to ease the pain they knew was coming. Those courageous people are remembered every day when we think of 9/11, but what of the courage that came after that we don't think about?
Those family members and friends left behind had to wake up and get out of bed every day for months when they would rather have pulled the covers over their heads and avoided the dawn. Many undoubtedly wished, as they cried, that they could have gone with their loved one. Some may have thought seriously about trying to join them, but somehow found the courage to stay behind and live each ordinary day. No labels of "hero" for them, but strength and courage kept them getting up each and every day. The parent that suddenly had to play two roles and soothe a child's fears of further abandonment. The parent or friend that had to find the courage to discover a reason to live each day with the enormous pain that was like missing a part of their soul. And all of them that had suddenly had to redefine their faith in God, while accepting that something like this could be permitted to happen.
Courage is what we credit our heroes with having, but courage comes in many forms. Courage is taking action, doing what is right even when we are afraid, simply because our heart and conscience says we must. Perhaps if the seeds of courage could be recognized and encouraged more often, they might blossom into greater strength of character in all of us. Recognizing and encouraging kindness in our children would be a great start. Remembering that we are the models for the behavior we want emulated is just as important. We all want to remember and honor the heroes of 9/11, and do what we can to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. One way is to act with courage and kindness and honor every single day, which will create an environment of love to surround a monument of peace.
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