11 September 2008


9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon

On this seventh anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks, a memorial to those lost at the Pentagon, and on American Airlines flight 77 which was crashed into it, is to be opened. The Washington post has stories, including this one about how the families of those lost there raised the money for the memorial. I found the accompanying photo essay moving. If the attacks on the World Trade Center hadn't happened, the attack on the Pentagon would remain the single largest mass murder in the history of the USA.

One of the losses that day was the first officer on Flight 77, David Charlebois, an Embry-Riddle graduate, a member of the National Gay Pilots Association, and someone who had led the kind of life leading to increased recognition by governments and communities and businesses and families and other individuals of the rights that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people have, but often aren't recognized or respected.

For all the horribleness of that day, one good thing that came of it—at least for many, at least for an extended moment—was recognition for what we have in common, from the base but important "we're all the same in death," to an elevated awareness of the great degree to which the shared aspects of our lives can supersede our focus on the matters that separate us. We can't pretend the differences aren't there: we just have to keep them in perspective as aspects of our being, not necessarily defining qualities. If we can increase the number who share that perspective, extend the moment of our awareness of it, while taking appropriate measures to defend ourselves and to attempt to bring to justice those who perpetrated the murderous hatefulness of 9/11—even as we might be failed instruments to execute that justice—we can, in spirit and in deed, be better people, leaving this world improved for what happened while we were in it.

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