Now that the dust has settled, a college senior is still waking up this morning with a wish that her parents could come to her graduation. A ten year old boy is trying to understand why he never got the opportunity to know his father. There is a mom out there who still has a lasting memory of her daughter trying to frantically get out of her building and all of a sudden…. phone is dead. Both a husband and a wife have a lasting memory of sending their loved ones to work not knowing it would be the last time they would see them. There are a thousand stories. None of them have a happy ending.
Now that the dust has settled there are a number of people who will come to terms with feelings they have been holding onto for almost ten years. Where does the blame go? Where does the anger go? Now that the target for their painful memories no longer exists how do they move forward? As they sit and watch people celebrate and sometimes trivialize the situation by throwing parties and running up and down the street hollering USA! USA! USA!; Where is their comfort? Where is their victory?
Now that the dust has settled you still have to face the day. You still have to face the lost memories and the missed chances. Children still sit helplessly as they watch one or both of their parents lace up their boots and leave for war. The pain that was caused on 9/11 still exists in a perpetual cycle. One man, though he was the face of the organization, does not slow this process or bring us closer to peace. One man, though his death provides some level of comfort, does not fill the void that still remains. One man, whose leadership was used to inspire great evil, stole from you the very thing that many hold dear; The future. The steady hopes and dreams of many left that day to never return.
Now that the dust has settled, where do we go now? The hangover of the emotions will slowly settle in and the decision to move forward will be at our doorstep. The baggage that we have carried will have to be laid down. Our collective will have to begin to focus on healing. How do we raise the towers again both literally and figuratively? A nation that has lived in fear for the the last ten years must now rise from its diminished state. It must stand proud again. I heard a beautiful story last night. A man was on a flight. As the news broke that Osama Bin Laden had been killed there was a loud cheer. Everyone began to celebrate. As people left their own bubble of joy, alone sat a woman who was in tears. She was turned into a widow 10 years ago. The entire flight stopped their celebration to tend to this woman, to comfort her, to let her know that it was ok, to let her know that while we do not completely understand your pain this moment; We are here for you.
Now that the dust has settled, the I must become the We. For all of you deeply impacted by the events of ten years ago, I am here for you. I stand in reverence of your loss and I pray that last night represented a step towards your healing. For those of you who serve, are the parents of someone who serves, or are the children of a soldier; I stand on awe of your sacrifice, commitment, and duty.
- Faith is like any other tool, If you do not use it you lose it.
Nate Johnson is the Assistant Director for Residential Life at the University of Miami.