9/11: All the pain and sorrow revisited

We have reached the 20th anniversary of one of the saddest days in this nation. And yet, as it has been said, there is no tragedy out of which some good doesn’t come.
The good, in that case, was the amazing response and caring of those who lived in the city, those who were there that day, along with the first responders, and all those who were quick to offer help and serve in any way they could, no matter what they were called upon to do since tragedy brings people together and brings out the best in them.
Usually, and often, both the people and the communities in which they live show us that the worst situations tend to offer the best opportunities for people to do what they do best. In every moment of darkness, it seems, there are countless moments of light in which small gestures of compassion and kindness connect us to people to show who we are, how we can help, and what matters most.
A truly calamitous situation, such as what happened that September morning in New York City, was the kind of thing that brought everyone together. Strangers were moved to help, regardless of what they had to do; those who had been trained for this kind of catastrophe started showing up and within minutes, were doing what they were trained to do — there was no time for thinking about themselves; they rushed in where angels would have feared to tread and risked their own lives to save as many of those who were desperately calling out for help, if indeed they could even call out. The city was awash with everyone doing something.
Strangers became each other’s best friends. No one cared what color, religion, or political party anyone was. All help was welcomed.
And yet, for all the help that was on the scene, and still coming, lives were being lost as the buildings collapsed upon themselves, like
many of the no-longer-wanted casinos in Las Vegas that were deliberately imploded. Even knowing those casinos were being demolished by design, with knowledge and approval of the destruction, such sights were still hard to witness. There was some kind of sadness
in seeing the end of those buildings.
Can we, even today, imagine the sight of those Twin Tower buildings going the way of those imploded Las Vegas casinos, but in a totally
unexpected and terrifying manner, with no safety measures in place, and with all those office workers still inside? It’s hard to even imagine — yet so many of us actually saw those planes attack the buildings and cause them to be destroyed — and those images linger in
our minds. Some of those first responders can still, after all these years, smell the smells of that day and still suffer the various
breathing difficulties they suffered then, difficulties that changed their lives completely, while some suffered damaged limbs or lost
limbs, and others suffered severe damage to their bodies in any number of ways.
And it wasn’t just the first responders, firefighters, and those in the towers who suffered those things; people in their homes, their
businesses, and those just walking by in the neighborhood all suffered in some way.
While 2,977 people, if that was and still is the final tally, died in that horrendous catastrophe; beyond that, there is no way to calculate
all the many who died later on as a result of the smoke inhalation and toxicity of that day. There may be thousands upon thousands of
firefighters and first responders who were exposed to that 9/11 smoke and dust, making them more susceptible to cancer and who suffer yet.
Many writers covered this story, and every year, in remembrance of all who died during that horrendous devastation, the coverage continues.
We have never really gotten all the information we needed to clarify everything that happened, and perhaps we never will.
Theories abound; New Yorkers and all others who were there — the police, firefighters, and first responders who were in the rubble, the
dust, the smoke, and the fire — continue to suffer. Freedoms were compromised, even the Constitution was ignored or abused in order to
“give the people more security,” despite what Ben Franklyn had once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
In the meantime, there are still secrets that need to be uncovered and apologies that have gone unspoken all these years for things that were left undone. But all in all, it is the people — all the responders of any kind in any way — that made NYC share that moment in time, for all time.
“9/11 is the longest day in the history of days,” said construction worker John Feal, one of the hundreds of volunteers who rushed to the
World Trade Center to search for victims. “It just has not ended for those that lost loved ones that day, for those who got sick and are
still sick, for those who got sick and died.”

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