“On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.” – President Barack Obama
I remember the late afternoon on September 11, 2001. I remember going through the day without knowing what to say. I remember my friend whose birthday was that day. I remember watching one of my teachers openly weep in front of the class.
Most of all, I remember listening to the voice of our president over the PA system. I was in the halls during my last class, and two of my classmates were with me. We stopped, and simply looked up at the nearest speaker. Someone from the yearbook staff was in the hall, and she snapped a photo. I never saw it, and I’m sure if I did, I would have been disappointed.
Last night, I found myself again listening to our president, and this time he delivered words conveying that one chapter in our history has closed (although a new chapter looms). This time, my thoughts swam–I simultaneously wanted to burst out into the “U.S.A.!” chant, and I wanted to make sure my residents weren’t conveying anti-Muslim sentiments. I am living through one of the most teachable moments I will ever find in my student affairs career.
And I don’t want to disappoint.
Thankfully, there were messages like this:
“As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.” – President Obama
At this time, there are many sentiments to negotiate. Engaging in careful discourse and simply not getting careless or sloppy with what is said or done will be important. Sure, it’s not as fun as I hope, but this is bigger than me. It’s bigger than real life. Let’s find ways to come together.
Edit: And of course, a big thank you to those that have sacrificed so much, especially in the past decade.