What are you adding to the world today?
A friend of mine tasked us with thinking about: what we love about being American. I read it, reread it and realized there are too many things for me to list. I love our beautiful country and the privilege of wandering around in it. I love the chance to say what I need to say, and to know it’s ok to, agree to disagree. And yet, I kept revisiting the question. I wondered with all the frustrations of our daily life, and quite frankly the immature drama of politics, how we are still able to stop when tragedy or crisis strikes us. How we, as a country, extend our hand to each other when we need it the most. Could it be we are more alike than we choose to admit?
I don’t know.
I do know 9/ll brought us, undeniable grief, heart-wrenching loss, and it also brought us togetherness. It was that day we all responded as Americans, nothing else, just Americans. In my opinion, there is a profound pride that tugs at the heart strings to know that.
I am humbled to think we continue to respond eighteen years later. While we may prioritize our own ideals and values, we still want similar things, right? Isn’t happiness at or near the top of the list? Isn’t freedom paramount?
History teaches us that freedom is not free, and current events confirm it. So, what else could be done? How do we support those who support us, just because we are Americans. For me, comfort comes in letters to troops, reaching out to the countless classmates of my kids who went to war, and staying in touch with friends who thought retirement was on the horizon, only to discover they too would be at war. Attendance at events that acknowledged family and friends who were veterans didn’t feel like enough.
It wasn’t enough.
It is never enough when you also know there are complete strangers willing to, not only stand next to you, but also in front of you, to keep you from harm. It is those men and women I am forever indebted to.
Our unified response, as a country, wasn’t something that just happened over night. It was like a glimmer of light, and of hope that we reached for. And it was the spark many of us needed to find our not enough. And those who stepped up were fellow Americans doing the right thing, because it was the right thing to do. And eighteen years later as we still cringe at the tragedy of 9/11, something good has happened.
People came together. People are united for the common good.
I discovered this when we attended my first KIA of a young Navy Chief who’s life was not much different then ours. Unfortunately he would never have a family of his own, take his mom flowers on Mother’s Day, or join his buddies for a greasy burger at Smash Burger.
On that day, I met an eloquent group of people, the Patriot Guard, who quietly stood for him because he stood for us. And this time I found more than hope.
I found others.
I don’t really believe time heals. I do believe what we do with our time can.
Wind Kisses, Donna
The following are a few groups, close to me, that were founded after 9/11. It is not complete. The organizations are fueled by an ongoing passion of what being American feels like to me. Take a minute to click on the links to learn what American spirit looks like, and feel free to send links I can add to the list. Thank you.