Our past is important. Especially in a digital age, when the speed with which information moves has diminished our collective attention span, it is important to make a conscious effort to remember our past—to reflect on the history that has shaped us personally and as a nation.
September 11th, 2001 is a dark chapter of that history—but a chapter we must not allow ourselves to skim over. Today is a time to remember the thousands of Americans killed at the hands of incomprehensible terror. It is a time to remember a country that, 11 years ago today, was shocked and shaken with inconsolable grief and fear.
But in addition to remembrance of our past, September 11th is also a time to look forward. We can’t alter the past, we can only make changes today and in the future that will have an impact on our lives.
A few days after September 11th, 2001 I wrote a short note to family, friends and employees. In that writing, I used the metaphor of the potter’s kiln; it may take time, expertise, capability and resilience to build something beautiful out of a lump of clay—but it is possible. Although unbeknown to me at the time, the lump of clay I referenced was to become The Freedom Tower, filling a hole in the New York skyline. This beautiful structure emerged from what was once an open wound in Manhattan. There is great comfort in what that represents—the healing of a nation.
Project Rebirth is an organization I have been personally involved with since the months immediately following September 11th, 2001. The mission of this project is to chronicle the strength of the human spirit while coping with disaster. Project Rebirth has built their efforts around a clear, concise directive: “We can learn from the disasters that we can never forget.”
After last year’s release of the feature length documentary film, Rebirth, the organization has refocused on the educational and therapeutic benefit of their material with first responders, the military and military families—anyone suffering from the affliction of PTSD. Project Rebirth will also be prominently placed in the 9/11 Museum, which is scheduled to open early in 2013. For more information, I invite you to read Project Rebirth Update – 11 Years Later.
By nature, we are a nation of builders—so it is no surprise that the once vacant hole in the New York skyline is being filled and the formerly desolate Ground Zero is a place of new life, remembrance, and hope.