Dear Association Members and Friends,
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
(Sandy Dahl, Wife of Flight 93 Pilot Jason Dahl)
Last month, I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York with my youngest son, who was not quite 2 years old on September 11, 2001. The range of emotions we experienced were both profound and powerful. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day. They were ordinary men and women from every walk of life and from all over the world. They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives from every race and creed. As we walked through the memorial hall with photographs of every man, woman and child who died that day, I could not escape the thought: “This is overwhelming. It could have been my family. It could have been me.” The magnitude of loss began to weigh even more heavily as we listened to recordings of last phone calls to loved ones made by people trapped in the towers and on the hijacked planes. We stood near a New York Fire Department Engine and New York Police Department unit that had been crushed by falling debris. We saw photos of the anonymous “Falling Man,” who, along with several others that day, jumped from the North Tower rather than succumb to the hellish flames and smoke. My thoughts returned to that day in 2001 when it became clear that America had been attacked by enemies who hated and wanted to destroy it. It rekindled the cold anger I felt 18 years ago. When we were done, we both had tears in our eyes. I hugged my son, told him I loved him and to never take the freedoms of America for granted.
On this 18th anniversary of 9/11, I look back to a column written by Leonard Pitts the day after the attacks that captures it better than anything I could say:
”What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.
Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.
Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.
Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.”
Those who attacked America on September 11, 2001 meant to weaken America, but instead they made us stronger. 18 years later, America still stands tall. Life is indeed short and there is no time for hate. Give your loved ones a hug and leave nothing unsaid. BUT NEVER FORGET.
Stephen B. Street, Jr., AIG National President