September 11th was first proposed as a national holiday on October 25th, 2001, only 44 days after the 9/11 terrorist attack that profoundly changed our nation. September 11, 2002 was the first Patriot Day. On Patriot day it is customary to fly US flags at half-staff and to display them at citizen’s homes. There is also a customary moment of silence to be observed at 8:46am, the time the first plane struct the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Plenty has been written about potential conspiracies and Government cover ups. My purpose today is to focus on some of the most foundational lessons I learned that day and the need to keep them fresh in our minds.
Irrational People Can’t Be Reasoned With
Often in risk reduction industries we think of criminals as rational humans who make calculated decisions. While this is true about a lot of bad people, the scariest threats are those people who are not rational. They make decisions not based on any sort of logical conclusion or outcome but based on emotion. Often these emotions are born out of mental illness or poisoned hate. These people can’t be reasoned or negotiated with. Further, these people spread hate to others.
We Are Stronger When We Are United
Leaving aside the heavily debated decisions of the presidency and congress to go to war and stay at war; what become very clear is that our country can achieve great things when we are united in a cause. That night members of Congress gathered on the Capitol steps to sing “God Bless America.” That day Congress passed a $40 billion emergency appropriations bill that day… unanimously. The stars and stripes became an even stronger symbol than ever before of an attitude of greatness and strength. That symbol still brings us together and reminds us that we are stronger when we serve and help each other.
Disaster Can Strike Anytime and Anywhere
While events that cause as much death as the 9/11 attacks did are rare, disaster can strike anyone. We would love to think that in our advanced society and industrious nation we are immune from tragedy of that proportion the truth is that we are not. Natural disasters like Katrina, terrorist attacks like 9/11, and internal hate and sickness like the Oklahoma City bomber or the Newtown shooting remind us that anyone of us could be just moments away from great tragedy. As individuals we can prepare ourselves in a way that we are more likely to be able to respond quickly and appropriately but we can’t always avoid it entirely.