The people weeping
There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.
— Herman Melville
Almost all of us who are old enough to remember September 11, 2001, can describe where we were and what we were doing when we first heard of the terrorist attacks that morning. We can recall how we felt; what we feared; what we first thought or said or did.
It’s a bit harder to recall accurately the pervasive uncertainty of those first few days after the attack, when none of us really knew what would come next. With airline pilots and Air Force officers among my friends and immediate family, that sense of insecurity was heightened for me, but none of my loved ones endured more than a disrupted schedule. For most of us, the ensuing years have unfolded with less trauma or inconvenience than we feared they might. Aside from airport hassles and other forms of increased government scrutiny, our lives have remained much the same as we had come to expect.
Not so for the families of those who perished in the attacks, or who died (and are still dying) in the wars that followed. Not so for the wounded warriors who continue to fight for healing and a return to any resemblance of the life they knew before. Not so for the families who still are enduring separation from loved ones deployed to war zones.
Today it’s fitting to look back with grief for those whose lives were lost or changed forever. It’s appropriate to resolve that we will remain vigilant against threats to freedom, whatever form they take, and recognize that the related inconveniences we sometimes encounter are minor in comparison to the price paid by those who willingly place themselves in harm’s way to protect and defend.
On this September 11th, I wish you a lovely early-autumn day, with skies free of threats, and hearts free of fear — and the full understanding of what a blessing those freedoms are.