This article appears in the current issue of Vero’s Voice Magazine.
Twelve years have passed since the tragedy of 9/11. It’s not even a recollection to people now in high school or college.
For some, the memory lingers. I was flying over the Atlantic when four terrorist planes struck America. One moment, I was writing a letter on a British Airways flight, the next, I heard the pilot announce that our plane was being diverted to a town called Moncton, New Brunswick.
My first thoughts were of my wife, Suzanne. I had to call her, but couldn’t. I spent the three days with two thousand passengers from twenty-two flights in a hockey coliseum, watching images of innocent people being murdered on a huge television monitor.
Life-changing incidents of gigantic proportions tend to put all matters into perspective. We go about our daily lives meeting obligations and taking our families for granted. I stepped back and realized — above all else — what was most important in this world.
Love is the first craving of the newborn and the last of the dying. Love is what all human beings seek to give and yearn to receive throughout our lives. It is basic to our nature. Prisons are filled with deranged people who never experienced true love. Children who do experience love usually grow into healthy adults. Love is the fuel of the soul. It is the ultimate need. And I would still like to believe that love conquers all.
No child is born with religious beliefs. Children are like computers, non-programmed until they become indoctrinated by those who impose ideals. Like many religions, children born into the Islamic faith have no choices, because their minds are formed from birth. Within radical Islamic environments, these children may learn to love. They also learn to hate those who do not believe as they do. By adulthood, their mind-sets are fixed.
Friends have said that God was with me that fateful day in 2001. When I hear that, I wonder why God wasn’t with the 3,000 innocent people who were snuffed out in four simultaneous episodes of mass murder.
Following the terror attack, patriotism blossomed all over this nation. It was good to see those flags flying. Despite our political or ethnic differences, we are all still Americans who love our country and love one another.
The enemy should not underestimate the power of love. After 9/11 we saw it emerge like a great sunrise over the eastern horizon, shining brighter than ever. We should not lose that glow. It makes us invincible.
Consider the final act of many victims in those moments of terror, in offices or on airplanes, picking up a cell phone, desperate to call someone they cared about, knowing their deaths were but seconds away. In their final breaths, they all had but a single message: “I love you.”
I wonder how long it had been since many had spoken those words.
As each day closes, we should all stop what we’re doing for a moment and make the time to look at our partners, mothers, fathers, children, or friends directly in the eyes, and utter those magic words: “I love you.”