Today, we take time to reflect.
To be thankful for the little things, for the health and safety of our loved ones, and for our freedom as Americans.
To remember what binds us together, and remember the strength of our unity, and remember the power of love in a time when so much of what we’ve seen and experienced lately has been adversity, and division, and hate.
Because together, as a nation, we all experienced loss and hate sixteen years ago. We were all shaken by the havoc and destruction that hate could wreak on our lives, on our loved ones, on our country.
But our freedom was not shaken. Our resolve did not falter. And that which makes this country great shone through in the compassion, the strength, and the courage of many.
Today, we honor the victims of September 11, 2001. We stand grateful for the first responders who served victims and their loved ones on that day and beyond.
In honor and remembrance of this day, we want to share an excerpt of a post written by our very special board member and friend, Cynthia Deitle, who served bravely alongside those first responders to care for victims and their families in the wake of the destruction that the 9/11 attacks left behind.
The coffee was brewing, the bagels were fresh, and the conference room on the 28th Floor of the New York FBI Office was surprisingly neat. I was ready to host the quarterly meeting of the New York Hate Crimes Working Group. It was about 8:30 a.m. on September 11, 2001.
About twenty minutes later, I walked to a nearby window with other FBI personnel as we helplessly watched the North Tower of the World Trade Center burn. Shortly after 9:00 a.m., I watched Flight 175 slam into the South Tower.
At that time, I had been serving as an FBI Special Agent in New York for almost seven years, five of which were devoted to the Civil Rights Program. I joined the Bureau specifically to help those most vulnerable in our society – individuals who were targeted for hate and violence because of who they were. I investigated cross burnings, swastikas spray painted on synagogues, and unspeakable brutality against African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, and other minorities.
I was honored to spend the months that followed 9/11 with the victims’ families listening to their concerns and thoughts and offering them services. After witnessing the most extreme display of hate on September 11th, I knew that my role would be to once again elevate those who needed their voice heard – the victims’ families. They showed me their resiliency, their anger, their compassion, and for some, the immense power of forgiveness. I was a better agent for having shared time with them.
Today, I will take some time to reflect on that fateful day sixteen years ago. Like millions of others, the morning of 9/11 is never far from my memory. As one of the thousands of individuals monitored as part of the World Trade Center Health Program, I cannot escape the possibility of long-term health complications. But, this I know for sure. I will honor the victims with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to Erase Hate and replace it with equality, diversity, and acceptance. Will you join me?
Photo Credit: Thomas E. Franklin, Associated Press