I think about it a lot. I lived in suburban New York and my husband worked at a trade magazine just 12 blocks from the World Trade Center. He watched the buildings go down.
We don’t watch any of the television specials. Seeing it live was enough for my husband.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t remember. My Sunday school kids asked my how God could allow something so terrible — many of them had friends who lost a parent in those buildings.
I told them that God gave humans free will and this is what some humans do with it.
So what do we do to memorialize those who died? Building a memorial is one thing, and it’s important for us to have a place to go and ponder what happened.
But what about today, 11 years later? Should we still be angry, shaking our fists and vowing to wipe out every member of Al Qaida?
I don’t think that does anyone any good.
I’m giving blood this afternoon.
My friend Thom bought coffee and doughnuts and brought them to the fire station to say thanks to the people who are there every day to keep us safe. My friend Byron is celebrating her niece’s birthday with special fervor.
Today is a day to reach out in that same spirit we all felt the day after the attacks. We can all do something in that spirit.
Here are some thoughts:
- Give blood. Someone always needs that.
- Sign up to volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and listen to the stories of the people there.
- Donate to a food pantry or volunteer there.
- Sign up to spend a day working at Habitat for Humanity. You have no idea how cool it is to drive by a house you helped build and know as family finds shelter there.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter. Some shelters have shifts for cuddling kittens to socialize them. Some need help walking the dogs so they will be exercised and not as hyper when people come to see them.
- If you see a homeless person, smile and say hello. It’s something to celebrate when most people look right past you as they pass and then someone recognizes your humanity.
- Donate to a charity. Nonprofits do a lot of good work and funding is harder to come by than ever before.
- Buy coffee and doughnuts for your local fire department, or better yet, if you have time, bake something.
- Thank a cop, a firefighter, a soldier, a social worker, a nurse, a teacher … these people all work hard to make our society a better one.
Do something other than dwell on the lives lost; honor them instead by dwelling on how you can make some lives a little better while you’re here on this planet.Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.