Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering 9/11

I was on the Kennedy Expressway, driving to my office at the Montgomery Ward corporate headquarters in Chicago, and listening to morning news radio, when the first report came in of an airplane crashing into a building in New York City. This was unbelievable. Hard to comprehend. As I continued my drive to work, the second airplane hit the second building. No one knew what this was, or what to expect.

When I got to my office I turned on my radio and computer to get more news and throughout the morning and the rest of the day I, and millions of others, watched this tragedy unfold.

In August this year I spent a weekend in New York City and visited the 9/11 Memorial The reflecting pools, surrounded by granite with the names of 9/11 victims, is a sobering reminder of that day of infamy.

Today. I looked back through this blog, which I started writing in 2005, to see how I'd remembered 9/11 in the years since 2005. Unsurprising to me, was that most of my articles written between the first and second weeks of September each year focused on school opening and tutor/mentor programs looking for volunteers and donors. None focused specifically on 9/11. Many focused on incidents of violence reported in Chicago papers, with commentary that showed that kids living in urban war zones live under levels of stress that negatively affects their performance in school.

Even as I listened and watched the 9/11 tragedy unfold in 2001, I was doing the work needed to help tutor/mentor programs in Chicago be available to kids in more of the city's high poverty neighborhoods, and to find the volunteers and dollars my own organization, like so many others, needed to continue its work for another year.

Like many, 9/11 has had a cascading flow of negative impact on myself, and the work I've been doing, in the years since 2001. Today as we remember how nearly 3,000 American's were killed, we're also remembering how thousands of American men and women have died or suffered life changing injuries and mental illness resulting in the wars that were launched after 9/11 to fight terrorism around the world. Millions of people in Iraq and Afghanistan have also died as a result of American response to 9/11.

As we remember America's disaster, we're seeing another unfold, with nearly 4 million people who have lost homes, loved ones, and almost all personal belongings, struggle to find a home in Europe, America or somewhere out of the war zones of the Middle East.

Much of what's happening now can be traced back to America's attack on Iraq, which in turn, can be traced back to terrorist attacks on 9/11 and earlier..which can be traced back to ....

This is still an unfolding story with no certain ending in sight.

I think the best way to honor the past is to give huge amounts of time, talent, wealth and other resources to help shape a better future. That can be by supporting youth and volunteers in organized tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other urban areas, or by focusing similar amounts of time, talent and wealth on other issues that challenge world peace, environmental security and quality of life. The ENOUGH graphic was created by an intern several years ago, to show a learning process that anyone can adopt, to become part of a solution to one or more of the complex problems we face.

Start each day by looking at a checklist of things you might do, and end the day by looking at the same list, and making a mental check showing what you did.

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