Thursday, May 15, 2014

Remembering the Pain

The National 9/11 Museum was dedicated and opened today for special visitors.

Watching the report on NBC Nightly News last evening was a moment of pain and sadness. The mementos, the artifacts, the memories it raises for any one of us who was alive and aware that dark September morning are so overwhelming that they have boxes of tissues available throughout the museum- and exit doors for those who want to leave early.

I found myself getting emotional as Brian Williams showed us some of the exhibits. Partly it was what he was showing us and partly the way seeing some of the pictures and thinking of the day triggers those parts of my brain that were triggered that morning. That's how the brain works. It just goes back to that moment. I even still have that when I see a lone jet taking off across the Minneapolis skyline. Or when I go to the Mall of America and remember that it was one of the potential targets. Next I think of the fact that our daughter was in Spain at that time and her panicked phone calls wondering what was happening and we were thousands of miles away and suddenly, with all flights grounded we couldn't get her home if we had to.

All that and more below consciousness happened in that short moment of the item on the news. And I wasn't even in New York when it happened! I can't imagine the depth of reaction for those who were.

It is good to remember, of course. The firefighters, first responders, innocent bystanders, people locked in an airplane who were simply heading off for the day. They should not be forgotten.

I also hope we remember that this is the result of extremism and that extremism in revenge is not any better than the original perpetrators. Neither is it good to hold onto hatred for a whole group of people who are as innocent as any of us who weren't even there. If it is right to paint a whole ethnic or religious group with such a broad brush, how can we say they shouldn't do the same to us. The vicious cycle of hatred and violence will only make more hatred and more pain and more memories that none of us want to have.

The museum opens to the general public next week. I am not sure I want to go to the museum itself. But I want to remember those who have worked to bring peace instead of war; hope instead of hate; possibility instead of more destruction.

In any case, may we never forget and in response work for peace and reconciliation.

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