9/11 Lessons: We Rise Again

by Bill Brenner on September 11, 2014

As we take time to remember those we lost on Sept. 11, 2001, let’s also remember what we’ve held onto.

Mood music:

As the years have passed, I’ve found myself comparing the terrorist attacks to the personal demons we all deal with at various points in our lives.

Many of us have fears, regrets, dreams and nightmares. Like terrorists who threaten to blow up buildings and people, our personal demons threaten to destroy us. But as I’ve learned from my own experiences, we don’t have to let the evil win.

One thing that has inspired me since 9/11 is the way New Yorkers have gone on with their lives. I’ve been to Lower Manhattan many times and seen people doing so even as they walk past what we used to call Ground Zero. The first time I saw that I was angry, because people seemed to be passing hallowed ground without a care in the world. I’ve since come to see it as a sign of strength.

Terrorists can destroy buildings and take lives. But they can’t keep us down for long.

The WTC site now includes a museum commemorating that terrible day, as well as a memorial built around the footprints of the Twin Towers. There’s also 1 WTC, which is now the tallest building in America. I’ve seen it at various stages of construction.

Bill Brenner at 1 World Trade Center

I see it as a symbol of how we manage to face our adversity and rise up.

For years after 9/11, I was terrified of flying. I eventually got back on planes, and today I love to fly. A couple years ago, I even took a flight on 9/11.

I rose.

Before my current job, I worked for Akamai, a company co-founded by Danny Lewin, who died that day aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the plane that struck the North Tower of the WTC. The company was struggling at the time of his death, caught up in the dot-com bust of the early 2000s. He always said the company would make it because its people are “tenacious as hell.”

He was right. His company ultimately rose from the depths and is a powerhouse today. Many entities and individuals have risen in similar fashion.

We rise after awful events like 9/11. We rise after sickness, loss and the mental-physical maladies that threaten to ruin us. Not everyone makes it. But enough do to fill me with a hope that will never dim.

Take time to remember the dead today. Watch some of the 9/11 documentaries on YouTube, because they’ll remind you that people who didn’t make it that day conducted themselves with honor and saved others.

Then rise up and carry on.

one world trade center aerial shot

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