Five lessons we’re glad we learned after 9/11

Five lessons we’re glad we learned after 9/11

Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 8:01 pm
By: KELI GOFF

By KELI GOFF
Just as most of us will never forget where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, most of us will never forget where we were on May 1, 2011, the evening that the world was told that Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for causing so much unforgettable pain on 9/11, was dead.
For many Americans the announcement brought some element of closure. For others it brought back the pain of that day. Nearly ten years later we are a nation still living under the ghost known as grief.
As a New Yorker that day and now, I try not to dwell on the pain and fear that stemmed from that morning but instead on the many moments in which my fellow man and woman were inspired by that day to live up to the very best of what the human race has to offer.
Firefighters are our heroes
People always liked firefightersm but something shifted on 9/11. We went from simply “appreciating” them for showing up to save us from blazes, to respecting them for showing up to save us from horrors beyond our imaginations.
Some of the casualties from that day were off-duty firefighters who answered the call of duty, spurring a newfound level of respect for their profession that survives to this day. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 it was not uncommon to see people spontaneously applaud as fire trucks raced along the streets of New York. While the public applause may have died down, I know I’m not alone in saying that every time a fire truck wizzes by I still feel a well of emotion-and respect.
Americans are incredibly resilient
We all know that our grandparents walked to school through 10 miles of snow–barefoot–no less. My grandmother’s experience, and those of others like her who endured segregation and so much worse, always made it a little hard to whine about the pains of Blackberry thumb, carpal tunnel or student loan debt.
But as much as the experiences of those of us born after the greatest generation seem to pale in comparison in terms of ability to endure pain, suffering and struggle, the way that our entire nation stood together after being emotionally knocked down on 9/11 is something that all Americans, of every generation, should take great pride in.
They didn’t  stop making great generations after World War II
Though it’s been in vogue the last few years to rag on Generation Y (those born after 1977), it’s worth noting that the average age of the U.S soldiers killed in Afghanistan is 25. That means that “Generation 9/11,” those whose formative years were shaped by the tragedy, have been the ones most likely to voluntarily give the ultimate sacrifice for our country since that day.
So the next time someone sits down to type out yet another trend story about how lazy, unmotivated an d selfish this generation supposedly is,  I hope at least one sentence will be devoted to the brave men and women who are following in the footsteps of their grandparents in reminding us how courageous Americans of any generation can be, particularly when it comes to sacrificing for our country.
We really do have more important things to talk, argue and worry about
In the last couple of months I have written about both the royal wedding and Donald Trump — two things that don’t matter as much as…well that don’t really matter at all. Now we all know what the President meant when he said he has more important things to think about than distractions like whether or not crazy people believe he was born here.
Hopefully the death of bin Laden is just the reminder we need that show us we should be a bit more selective in deciding what important and spend our energy accordingly.
We are all stronger working together than apart
You know what’s extraordinary? To consider that U.S. special forces not only took out Osama bin Laden but did so without first arguing about who would claim credit, or who would take the blame if the mission. There was a time right after 9/11 when that sense of unity described all Americans. Ten years later it seemed all but forgotten.
But as I watched my fellow Americans celebrate the close of one of America’s ugliest, my hope was renewed that we may just get back to those days after one of the worst nightmares in our nation’s history, when our nation was at our best.
Keli Goff is a contributing editor for TheLoop21.com, and can be reached at assistant@keligoff.com.
This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.
Published in The Messenger 5.4.11

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