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In Memoriam

Posted on 2011.09.11 at 23:33
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Ten years ago I awoke from nightmares of people calling out for help and went to class. I remember my teacher asking me if I had heard and telling me a plane had hit one of the towers. We went to the music library at Malloy Hall and started watching a live video feed. I saw the second plane hit. I remember realizing it was not debris, but people jumping from the towers to their death. I remember watching the first tower crumble. I remember hearing the firemen/police officers as the building fell on them, cutting off the feed. I remember the media repeatedly showing the planes crashing and the towers falling, albeit slightly edited from the live feed. I remember nightmares.

I remember the day his fate was sealed. I remember leaving him there. I remember fearing for his life. I see daily how society treats him. I see daily how ignorance and our own laws have destroyed my family. I see how the people of this country are far too quick to judge and punish, but too slow to think or show compassion. I see daily how much injustice society inflicts upon itself. I see the pain, destruction, and prejudice we sling at each other in the name of religion, lawfulness, and righteousness.

What happened ten years ago was a tragedy. What happens every day in the streets of this country is also a tragedy, but we turn our heads. Do I respect the dead, the victims, and those who lost their lives? Yes. Do I feel a sense of patriotism because of a tragedy? No. Patriotism, like respect, is not something that comes once a year; it is part of you and who you are.

How arrogant of us to think our country is all that different from the others. Look at how we treat our own people. Is that anything to be proud of? People choose ignorance over facing the facts of reality. People choose compliance and mediocrity over trying to change our country for the better. Respect for the dead is not a country coming together to commemorate the anniversary of their death--rather it is a change in how you live your lives and touch the lives around you every day.

I do not visit my grandfather's grave, yet his memory and his love I carry with me in all that I do. I do not visit my friend George's grave, yet all that he was remains in the memories and hearts of those that loved him. I do not need the grave or a specific day to feel their love. Our loved ones would not wish for us to dwell upon their death, but hope their love enriches our lives on a daily basis. That is the quiet respect for the dead. It is not a profession, a declaration, or a burst of patriotism about the country. What matters is the lives that were lost, not where this happened, when it happened or how it happened. By focusing on where, when, and how we are only allowing those that sought to destroy the hearts of others a victory.

What matters is how those that have died lived their lives, and how we decide to continue on with only their spirits to watch over us. What matters is that lives are lost to conflict and war all the time, but the real causes and issues remain unspoken because the tragedy is not big enough. What matters is that any loss of life, or destruction of life--for some fates are worse than death, is not the answer. What matters is sometimes the cost is too high, yet law-makers and government officials chose not to admit it. What matters is that society wishes to use tragedies to stir something that is always inside of us; something that does not need tragedy to be stirred.

When did we become so misguided that humanity forgot its greatest gifts? When did we forget how to stir the love of each other without being faced with horrible adversity? How far have we really progressed as a society, as individuals, as human beings?

What matters is that any act that is without compassion is an act against all humanity. Regardless of location, profession, religion, age, ethnicity, orientation, record, disability, or gender. When will the day come that we stop remembering this only on the days of a tragedy? And when will the day come that we start teaching compassion rather than judgement and hatred?

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