tragedy and triumph

Tragedy and Triumph

-Ana E. Gaeta

17 years ago, tragedy struck and an entire nation bled as we all shed tears of pain, fear, hate and despair. It wasn't a building that collapsed, it was a nation that was attacked. Today we spring towards greater heights; not without caution, but with a much more diligent and strong attitude, with the drive and desire to always learn and grow.

No one would have imagined that in the blink of an eye, every American would be paralyzed as we stood in shock, staring at a TV monitor, watching the twin towers fall, tears dripping down our eyes trying to swallow hard, unable to digest the chaos that was going on, unable to sustain the pain and fear that spread in every heart, as we ached inside with confusion and despair.

17 years ago many lost their closest friends, their coworkers, their sons, daughters, children saw their parents for the last time. Every American mourned the tragic loss of neighbors and friends, of relatives and partners, of everyone that they would never see again, and everyone who suffered a loss that day.

We learned something important that day.

The more comfortable we get with busy work the less we value the tiny moments of joy. The goodnight kiss, the morning hug, the cup of coffee with coworkers, the screeching sound of the door as we get home and see the people we love. The air we breathe, the love we give, the smiles we share, the life we live. It can all be gone so fast, so quick and so unexpectedly, in ways we can't even picture happening.

It is hard to understand that whatever we have today, good or bad, tomorrow it can all be gone without warning, without sign. So many friends and families saw each other for the last time that day.

We were all wounded but we had been severely underestimated.

We are Americans, and like springs, we are incredibly resilient. No matter how many times we are compressed, extended, or torqued, we know where we stand, and we will do whatever it takes to lift our load and come out strong.

We shook off the shock, we stood back up, and helped each other up. We rose up united and vowed to not let this happen again. To not allow something to so quickly snatch our love and instill fear. To not allow something to come out of nowhere crashing down on our dreams. Most of all, we learned to not allow anyone to use fear to separate and divide. We are one nation and today, together we stand.

Do not let another moment pass without reminding those around you that they matter. Do not let another hour go by without looking around and being grateful for what you already have. Do not let this day go by without telling the people you love, just how much they mean to you. We never know what the day may hold, but we do know that we are in control. We are in control of what we make of our lives, our situation, our past, and our circumstances.

Today is the day to gather all the courage you can and be the change you want to see. Be the kind of person you want the nation to be filled with. We are what we decide to become, and our nation is built on the effort and growth of each and every one of us. So learn, live, love, today and always.