For those of us who lost family members on 9/11, the intense feelings of grief, anger, sadness, fear and worry are with us every day — not just on the anniversary of the attacks.
On some level, there is no moving on. There is no closure. There is only the reality that our lives changed on that day and the acceptance that they will be forever different.
But here’s how I and other members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows have mitigated our losses: We have given up on the notion that we stood outside of the world and were somehow immune to its realities.
We have come to understand that the physical losses of our loved ones were only a part of the losses we incurred that day: There was the loss of our imagined security, the loss of our imagined special status, the loss of our imagined immortality.
We have also come to the realization that an appropriate response to 9/11 might have been humility: the understanding that at any minute each one of us can go spiraling out of this world as the result of war, of weather, of a weak heart.
From that humility might have grown compassion: not just for the ones we lost but for others who have experienced — and continue to experience — loss as the result of terrorism, violence and war.
— Innocent families in Afghanistan and Iraq who have lost loved ones to the military response to 9/11.
— Members of our military who have died in combat or committed suicide as a result of their deployments.
— Families displaced from their communities as the result of political strife.
— Muslim-Americans subjected to bias and violence.
— Americans suffering from job loss and economic dislocation caused by the cost of war and rising military budgets.
— And all of us, suffering as the result of abandoning the rule of law and the Constitution, which remain the true sources of our security.
Ultimately, from that compassion might have grown the wisdom that we live in a connected world, that we have a shared destiny, even with those we fear or hate, that we rise or fall together, the rich, the poor, those with everything to live for and those with nothing left to lose. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
On this 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, let us honor those we lost by recognizing our kinship with people all over the world whose faces mirror those of our mothers, our fathers and our children.
Let us recover the sense of unity we experienced in the days after 9/11.
And let us remember, and return to, the uniquely American values and principles that will guarantee peaceful tomorrows for everyone.
David Potorti is co-founder of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. His brother, Jim Potorti, died at the World Trade Center. David can be reached at email@example.com .