Most of us have a story about this day. Almost all of us can remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001.
I know I can.
Now, at the time, I wasn’t much of a conservative. At all. In fact, if we went back to my old high school, and somehow could find an edition of the school paper from 20 years ago, we’d see that I wrote if I were old enough to vote, I’d vote for Al Gore.
So, let’s be thankful I wasn’t old enough to vote.
Nonetheless, 9-11 had the biggest impact on my life and my views in terms of an isolated incident in world history since I’ve been alive.
I was sitting in the classroom of the school paper, doing the layout for the sports section. Someone came in and mentioned what had happened, so we all went to the school library to watch the rest.
I still remember standing by my friend Nick in the library. We were among many students watching as the events developed.
The first emotion I recall experiencing was confusion. Obviously something bad had happened. An accident? Something intentional? Nobody knew at the time.
But then that second plane hit. At that point, we could safely rule out anything accidental.
Then the Pentagon. It was like a gut punch. At that point, I was wondering if it was ever going to stop. Who knew how many planes flying way up in the sky were going to be used as bombs that day?
This year, I don’t want to spend much more time talking about 9-11 memories. I want to focus on the message we were given routinely in the days following 9-11 and the months and years that ensued during the War on Terror.
We were told do not let the terrorists win. And we were told the terrorists win if they’re able to make us change our daily routine. If they were able to disrupt our daily lives.
Fast forward to 2020. Has the COVID outbreak been an accident? Has it been intentional? Has it just been nature?
I am not sure we know.
But what I do know is, nothing in my lifetime has altered the way Americans go about their everyday business quite like the Coronavirus.
I am not saying an initial halt to daily behavior wasn’t necessary or appropriate. But six months into this thing, we have judges ruling that a church cannot meet for in-person services. We have businesses ordered to close by the government. We have cities requiring residents wear masks. We have empty Major League Baseball stadiums.
We were even told by Dr. Fauci that we should never return to shaking hands again.
There’s an attempted “new normal.”
Now, COVID isn’t 9-11, I’ll grant you that.
But I am left wondering whether we’re letting this virus beat us by upending our everyday lives in an effort to survive.
I have heard stories about grandparents not hugging their grandchildren for fear of spreading the virus. I have heard stories about not being able to have visitors in the hospital. I have heard stories about no visitors being allowed in nursing homes.
And on, and on.
I’m left to wonder, what good is this life if we stop living it?
Our nation’s response to 9-11 was to get back up on our feet, dust ourselves off and go on living life.
Granted, we made some changes. But we got through it – together.
And that’s another aspect of the 9-11 recovery that we simply do not have this time around. As a country, as a people, we’re not together.
I am not sure how we begin to begin again. How we get through this.
But I know it’s going to be even more difficult than it already will be if we don’t find a way to come together and figure out a way to forge on, finding a way to live with the risks of the Rona.
We cannot allow the virus to force us to live in fear. Especially to the point where we cease living our lives at all and can’t figure out how to live peacefully, together.