Most, if not all, U.S. citizens recognize today as a day of remembering. Ten years ago today, tragedy struck our nation. Each year as this day comes I worry about what I am going to write. Do I write my memories of the day? Do I write about Robert D. Pugliese whose name is found below as a reminder of his family's loss? Do I write of the changes that our nation has seen in the decade since that terrible day?
Tonight I attended a 9/11 memorial in which the Mapleton Chorale performed Rene Clausen's "Memorial." In his keynote address, President Matthew Holland of Utah Valley University spoke of remembering and the purpose it has in our lives. As I listened to his stirring words, I was reminded of the signs that read "We must never forget." Yet with all of our reminders not to forget are we truly remembering and honoring the memories of that day so long ago? Are our memories of what we were doing and how we felt the purpose of our memories. Or is there a deeper meaning to our memories that we seem to be missing?
I could easily recount the story of my uncle rushing up from the basement that morning to turn on our television, and my family watching helplessly as the second plane flew into the tower. Or there are the stories of working at Provo's Missionary Training Center and hearing of missionaries stranded across the nation and kneeling to pray with those that they found in whatever airplane terminal they happened to be in. I even have stories of my second job temping for a company that had 2 employees in NYC that day (1 of which was supposed to be at the Twin Towers on a job) and fielding terrified calls from their wives as we scrambled to try to contact them. (Both made it safely out of the city that day).
Yet, with all these stories one has to wonder what their purpose truly is. Why must we remember? To which my answer is: So that we live as befits the memory of what we have lost. And not just the people that we have lost. This tragedy is more than the victims and the heroes of the day. The innocence of a nation was lost that day. The sense of complacency that had fallen over our country was lost that day. How we live today should reflect what we have lost, the good and the bad.
The signs are right, we must never forget, but more important is that we must honor the memory every day. We must remember what we have lost to remind us of what we strive for today. Our world can change in an instant and we must be ready for whatever comes our way. Not to justify the wars that are being fought, but to remind us that life and freedom are precious. To remind us that we can come together as a nation and to embrace our differences. To work together for a better world. To remember not only the victims, men and women who lost there lives to tragedy, but also the men and women who sacrificed their lives. To honor the brave actions and the enduring spirit that can be found among our own countrymen. These are not the founding fathers of centuries gone by. They are not the heroes of a war decades past. These are not even celebrities making millions of dollars in Hollywood or on athletic fields. These are men and women in the here and now that are just like you and me. Men and women who willingly sacrificed themselves to help others.
To me, that is what remembering today is about. Yes, we remember the loss that we have suffered. But we remember the lost to ensure that the lives we live and the country that we live in is worthy of the sacrifice that was made.