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Commentary: Remember those we lost by rising up with good

Courtesy of MCT

Most Americans would be able to tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001.

I was eating a bagel on my way to school when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I was in Mrs. Leitsch’s sixth grade math class when the second plane hit. I was in Mrs. Levandowski’s third period English class when the third and fourth planes crashed.

My class was known for being the troublemakers at my grade school, but on that morning, we were silent. No one spoke. Many of us didn’t really know what was going on, but as we listened to the radio, we knew it was something important. From the look in our teachers’ eyes and the urgency in the reporters’ voices, we knew it was something that would change us and this country forever.

I look at my 11-year-old brother, sitting in the same place now as I was 10 years ago on that fateful day, and I’m reminded of how much my world changed unexpectedly. He looks at the world with a certain innocence, still assuming that all people are good.

And while Sept. 11 certainly left many of us, myself included, with a vulnerability and pessimism, there is a beauty that I find in my brother’s outlook, one that I feel is more relevant than ever on this anniversary.

Because it’s easy to look to the evil in the world, the evil that became more vivid than ever on Sept. 11. And of course, we must acknowledge the evil and the pain and suffering that came with the events of 10 years ago.

But it is in our darkest hours that the good in the world becomes most evident. This good is found in the heroes that rose up on that day and in the days following.

The firefighters and police officers who selflessly risked their lives to do their job in service of others are perhaps the most obvious example. And then there are the doctors and nurses who gave medical aid to those in need. Or any number of countless civilians who helped others to safety. There are people who prayed, who volunteered, who organized fundraisers. There are those in our military who continue to protect and serve this country every day.

Every act of kindness, every helping hand, every smile that has been shown since Sept. 11, 2001, is proof that good will overcome evil and proof that our country, this land that I love, is so full of good.

These 10 years have passed in the blink of an eye, but the memory of that day will never be forgotten. The memory of those we lost has not faded with time, nor will it as the years go by. The pain we felt on that day has not dimmed.

But it is important, in our remembering, that we as Americans rise up and show the world the power of good. Because it is in this good that we win, that America’s strength and freedom wins, and that we truly honor those we lost. These values on which this country was founded were strengthened in the heartache of Sept. 11, and if we can withstand that, we can withstand anything.

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