It is important to remember the beauty of that crisp, clear morning that ended with the death of almost 3000 people. It is important to remember the hundreds of first responders who gave their lives in service. It is important to remember the over 3000 children who lost a parent and the 1609 people who lost a spouse. It is important to remember this national tragedy encompassed the globe with citizens from 115 different nations perishing.

We must remember the pain, and then tilt our chin a bit higher and remember the courage, determination and humanity that followed this act of terror. Remember the days that followed with fires still burning, loved ones still missing, and people seeking ways to volunteer, to help, to come together. Remember the days when people displayed enormous strength, a strength born of tenderness and sorrow. Remember the days when the kindness of strangers was the norm and not the exception. Remember through the horror and the ashes the human spirit shined bright with bravery and self-sacrifice.

The years go by quickly, and the routine of life can easily numb a population with daily, practical concerns. Those who remember all too clearly must share these memories. College freshmen were only in middle school, and middle school children were only babes, and how we remember is important in how they will remember. Remembering the horror, the deaths, the toxic stench that lasted for months. Remember images and posters of people gone missing, and of the dwindling hope that they would be found alive. Remember that it was only the small minded that responded with hate or ignorance, and that most people responded with courage, resolution and determination.

When we remember this day, we must allow ourselves to remember the pain and that we are greater than our suffering. Remember that through the daily struggles of life there exists a reserve of power, endurance and integrity within us. Through tears that blur one’s vision, the heart sees more clearly the values held dear. It is a day to remember the victims, the survivors, the fighters who ran towards when others fled from, and remember the spirit of humanity that rose higher than any cloud. Remember that having received a crushing blow, we helped each other up. Remember that in our darkest hour, our light shined the brightest.

This article was originally published on 9/11/08