Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thinking Back To September 11 2001

The day started like any other day for me at Mylan Pharmaceuticals. I was an analytical chemist working in quality control. I had walked from my apartment which was just about a mile from Mylan, and arrived slightly before 7AM the way I had walked many times before that day. I had written up some work from the previous day's testing, and was beginning sample preparation for some more tests. We used to listen to the radio in the lab back then, and we were stunned in our workday when we heard the first news broadcast at slightly before 9AM. I don't think any of us knew how to respond to it. How could anyone? What we were listening to was so foreign to our ears. How could any of this have happened? And then, as the day went on, we continued to do our work as we listened attentively to update after update, each one stirring us freshly. What was happening to our world?

I remember in the early afternoon that I made the decision to post a note on our break room door for a time of prayer for anyone who was interested. It seemed like the one thing that was within our power was to call upon the Creator of the universe to share our fears, our concerns, and our deep sadness over what we had heard over the radio over the course of the day. As I walked home at the end of the work day, I wondered about all of the people who had been in those towers. I grew sad as I thought of families and friends who would never be reunited in this world. I grew angry at evil and injustice.

When I arrived at the apartment, I found my roommate sitting in the living room, his eyes glued to the unbelievable images on the television. Was this really happening? I remember phone calls going out, to say that our church, like many communities of faith,  was having a special time of prayer for our nation and for our world that evening.  We were all stirred to our core as we tried to comprehend what we had witnessed on television and over the radio waves that day.

I remember seeing images in the days after the event of missing person postings as people wondered if their loved ones had been among the survivors or not. I even remember seeing, for a moment, what I thought was a photo of one of my high school classmates, Mary Lou Hague. Unfortunately, Mary Lou was among those whose lives were lost on that day. I mourn the loss of a friend, but I can't begin to imagine what her family and the families and friends of so many others continue to feel every year as this day approaches.

So much has happened in all of our lives since that day. I have watched a number of friends graduate from college, start new careers, move to new locations, and even get married (and I've actually done those myself). We have buried loved ones, and watched new technologies develop at a remarkable pace. We have witnessed changes in our lives and in our culture that at one time we could not even imagine.

When flying before the events of September 11, I remember sitting with friends and loved ones as I waited for my plane to arrive at my gate in the airport. Since that time, I have learned to say my goodbyes enroute to the airport. I have many fond memories of saying goodbye or hello to family and friends at airport gates, but since September 11, no new memories like that are possible.  And as I walk into a variety of hotels and other buildings, I am reminded, as I empty my pockets to walk through metal detectors, that today's world is very different. Today, various agencies work tirelessly to insure that our lives are safer, and that an event like what happened 11 years ago does not happen again.

In the eleven year wake of September 11, 2001, one thing hasn't changed. I believe that people have not lost hope. We have not lost the opportunity to do good in our world. Every day, we have opportunities to love our neighbors, to practice kindness, and to strive to be a help to others. As you read these words, I ask you to consider how you might help make the world a better place. We live in a world that is still hurting, but we have not lost hope. This hurting world needs people like you and me to actively pursue ways in which we can work toward a better tomorrow. May we all consider our how we can contribute to a brighter future, and may we never grow weary in doing good.

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