For some people, it’s about the numbers: 4 planes. 4 targets. 2,996 victims. 4 years and 10 months. 1,763 days. 42,312 hours. 2,538,720 minutes.
For others, like me, it’s about the people. Every victim was, at the very least, a son or daughter. Many were parents, grandparents, siblings, etc… Many of the victims themselves were related to each other. Each one represents a void in many lives, where new memories aren’t made and old ones are the only thing that stands in the way of insanity.
Our dearest friends lost their daughter, Heather Lee Smith, on Flight 11. These people live with a grief that is so vastly different, in a world that has been forever changed. Their loss is marked every year by an entire nation – that can be a great comfort but also a terrible intrusion. But in the 9/11 memorial services they have organized all over the Northeast, they honor their losses while celebrating the lives of their loved ones. I have had the privilege of attending these ceremonies in Boston and I’ve seen the youth and potential that was lost. Yet I’ve also seen the powerful resilience of the families, capable of laughter in the midst of great sorrow.
They possess the ability to turn their tragedy into community action and they have, in immeasurable ways. Memorial scholarships will pave the way for hundreds of students to pursue an educational path they might not otherwise have been able to afford. Foundations have been set up to shepherd a victim’s dearest cause to a higher profile. Charitable organizations will benefit from the largesse of friends and family for generations to come. In their grief, these families and friends are ensuring that the memories of their loved ones are not lost to time, but rather that they endure thru the lives of countless others.
As our great nation moves further away from the events of 9/11/01, I see us forgetting what we felt in the days and weeks that immediately followed. That sense of unity of purpose, that feeling of brotherhood, of belonging to something larger than ourselves. And I worry that in the process of forgetting, we will lose part of what makes us a great nation – our ability to be compassionate for our fellow man, to extend ourselves past our immediate world and recognize that sometimes we need to make sacrifices to ensure our safety.
We can’t afford to forget 9/11/01 – for the sake of our country’s future. The victims of 9/11 deserve the same respect from all of us that their families and friends give to them. They are, and should remain, a reminder of what the world could look like. Their deaths should not divide us they should unite us as they did in the days and months after 9/11. So that we never forget their sacrifice; so that we make certain the world we caught a glimpse of that horrible morning will never become a reality. We must honor them and remember them.
Frank V. Moccia, age 57
Place killed: World Trade Center. Resident of Hauppauge, N.Y. (USA).
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Frank V. Moccia, age 57
Resident of Hauppauge, N.Y. (USA)