On that bright September morning 15 years ago, no one could imagine where we would be today. For each and every one of us, the 15th anniversary of the date is personal. We all know exactly where we were and what we were doing. That is the answer to those who question the significance of the date.
Conversations about what has happened since are important, very important to us as a Nation and as individuals. But those conversations are for another day. On September 11th, 2016, and the days leading up to that day, we need to remember the lives lost.
We need to remember the innocents who were just going about their day . We need to remember the Police and Firefighters and Emergency Responders who displayed all the best parts of who we are as a people as they ran towards danger. Special remembrance also needs to be made of those civilians who were mere passengers aboard a jet plane but became National heroes when they prevented our symbols of freedom in Washington, DC from becoming scenes of destruction.
In total, 2,977 people lost their lives on that bright September day. No, I do not count the perpetrators. Their lives ended too on that day but they deserve to be utterly forgotten, as if they never existed.
How I wish they never existed.
We also need to think of all the lives lost in service to our Nation in the past 15 years in what is now called the Global War on Terror. Even those who entered the Armed Forces before we were a Nation at war were volunteers. None of them imagined what would be asked of them even if they had enlisted on September 10th, 2001. Yet every one of them knew they were putting themselves at the front of the line to go if their Nation asked.
Every year for the past six, I am asked for my thoughts on 9/11 because my son was one of those who enlisted, who volunteered. When my son took the oath and signed that blank check, he knew he was going to war. He knew he was putting his life in danger. I knew but certainly never believed his personal check “…for an amount up to and including his life…” as the saying goes, would be cashed.
This year, in recognition of the 15th anniversary of the day our Nation was forever changed, my life was forever changed, I’m moved to share my thoughts and feelings. There is a special remembrance of the lives lost in what is now our Nation’s longest war, and in this display and organization is everything I have to say. If you have a chance between now and Sunday, September 11th, 2016 to get to St. Louis, go. While the images of planes slamming into buildings, buildings disintegrating into dust and thousands upon thousands crossing the bridges to get out of Manhattan fill the airwaves, I invite you to see another wave.
On a hillside in a St. Louis, Missouri park, more than 7,000 American flags are waving. Each flag is in remembrance of The Fallen in the Global War on Terror, those who died because 2,977 innocents were killed. Each flag represents a life lost, given, in service to them and to us all. Each flag waves on the last breath of that Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, Guardsman or Coastie.
I invite you to experience this heart breaking, soul filling, solemn and beautiful display for yourself. There is no admission price but it is not free. The fee was paid for you at a cost most cannot imagine. See it and feel that most gentle wave, and think of the price of that bought and paid for air.
If you can’t make the two and a half hour trip to St. Louis, watch the video below. Thank God such men and women lived. Thank God that our Nation still produces such men and women. Thank them for their service. Thank the families who are now as broken as those of the victims of 9/11, because of 9/11. Thank them, honor them all by pausing to remember and reflect on the majesty and pride of this incredible installation.
As each flag waves on that beautiful hillside, think of that last breath. Place your hand over your heart and hold that final exhalation in reverence and remembrance. Feel each heartbeat beneath your palm and know they live on through you, know they were willing to stand in front of you. Feel the wave of the over 7,000 gently but forever blow.
Special thanks to the selfless volunteers who made this possible. Follow the link below to purchase one of these very special American flags.
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