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Remembering 9/11
Posted: 9/11/2011 | Inspirational Comments
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Do you remember where you were when you heard about the events that took place on 9/11? Most people do. For all Americans it is a day to remember.  
It is now the tenth anniversary and a multitude of commemorative events are planned in New York and elsewhere. Two moving memorials are opening: The National 9-11 Memorial in New York City, and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Many will also visit the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the 3rd Annual World Trade Center Run to Remember, an annual fundraising event, held on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. 
The largest annual 9/11 memorial motorcycle parade will be held in Pennsylvania on this anniversary, a 37 mile ride through several towns. Even in London people will be honoring the lives that were lost. Awareness Sunday, held each year at Westminster Abbey on, or near, the anniversary of 9/11, includes a special service of remembrance and reconciliation open to people of all faiths.
Young and old, veterans and emergency responders, and so many others will be lining the streets for these events. It’s an important opportunity for communities affected by the 9/11 tragedy to share their stories, connect with others who’ve had similar experiences, and forget our differences for just a little while as we recognize ourselves being part of a larger whole. 
A sense of connection and kindness was so palpable for a while after the tragedies. It seemed that we were able to open our hearts to people more easily. For some it appears to take huge awful events to remind us that we are part of something larger. Perhaps it helps us feel a stronger connection with our community and culture, helps us feel a part of humanity. Yet, once we knew what happened, it was difficult not to get caught up in the polarization that was taking place against the people who had done this terrible act, who had caused so much pain. 
Those who lost loved ones remember it every day. Many of us in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (including me), especially those in New York City, or within commuting distance of Manhattan, were deeply affected by these tragic events, yet our entire country felt each excruciating and horrifying blow. Most of us in this area knew people who died on that day, or who came very close. Our loss was enormous.
There were other kinds of loss, too. Practically nothing is the same about the way we live in our communities, or about the way we travel. We largely took our national safety for granted. Now, we’re reminded of potential danger every time we go through security at the airport. I think we experience a greater sense of vulnerability, today. Our fundamental security, especially for those of us who live in larger cities, seems more tenuous.
So while we can take this opportunity to come together as a community and honor those who died, those who lost loved ones, and those who saved many lives, we must take special care to avoid re-traumatizing ourselves. 
Right now, there are many opportunities to see old photos and video footage of 9/11 on the news. Seeing images of the planes flying into the twin towers, people falling, and the extreme human suffering that took place, can trigger all the same feelings that we experienced 10 years ago. There will be many interviews of people recounting sad and frightening stories about that time. Watching all of this may bring up a sense of helplessness, because we can’t do anything about what happened. It might even feel more difficult than 10 years ago. 
Many people who have unresolved childhood trauma can experience these images and remembrances as deeply re-traumatizing. By dwelling on this tragedy, painful emotions can be brought to the surface of our consciousness. The media tends to present things in such a dramatic way that it stirs up our emotions, and often induces fear in us. We must find a way to express our profound respect in a less sensational way, so that we don’t engage our nervous systems and trigger old traumas. This is a time that demands we be gentle with ourselves, and kind to all. Putting ourselves through the trauma, again, doesn’t bring anyone back or help in any way. 
There have been studies about 9/11 and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One study by Jennifer Ahern, Ph.D., said that media exposure, particularly watching television, has been associated with PTSD. In particular, multiple viewings of these disturbing images create 2.32 times greater odds for experiencing PTSD. Studies have also shown that people who reported direct exposure to the events of 9/11 were found to have higher rates of PTSD. The closer people were to the World Trade Center, the higher their risk of developing PTSD. 
I would hope that as we remember the events of 10 years ago, we can be kind to ourselves, open our hearts to each other, and remember how we treated each other in the aftermath of 9/11. At that time we drew together in our shock and grief. We shared an emotional experience, feeling protective and afraid, together, and it seemed to allow us to show each other a greater consideration and kindness. We seemed to transcend our differences for a little while, and we recognized our interconnectedness more easily.
So perhaps a good way to honor our losses on this tenth anniversary of 9/11 is by doing a ceremony of remembrance, and using this time to connect with friends and family. We can use this time to express how much we care for each other, as well as share how our lives have changed in the last 10 years. We can remember that it’s also the anniversary of a time of deep caring, connection, community, and coming together. This is our opportunity to reach out to one another in kindness, and to demonstrate our great respect for our fellow human beings. Let’s allow ourselves to feel whatever we feel, openly, and give others permission to do the same. 
As we remember 9/11 in this way, our compassion will send ripples throughout the world, and far into the future.


William Peterson       Posted: 9/12/2011 9:49:28 AM

Though it never "gets better", it becomes easier to deal with. Like many things in life, you become accustomed to no longer having them as a part of the growing process. Unfortunately lost loved ones fall into that category as well. Though I did not lose anyone in the 9/11 tragedy, I understand tragically losing a loved one, even though it was somewhat expected, nothing could have prepared me for it, but in time I was able to put it into perspective and realize that it was indeed an integral part of my destiny. Answers can always be found when they are sought.

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