At 7am this morning, on my way to an early meeting, I drove past my local firehouse in San Francisco. Out front were eight or nine firefighters, dressed in full formal uniforms, standing single-file and at attention, starring dead east into the distance.
It took me a minute to put the scene in context. What was going on? Why were these guys out front; who or what were they honoring? It only took me a minute before I pulled over to the side of the road and began to weep uncontrollably.
Today is September 11. As these firefighters stood at attention, it was eleven years to the day, and to the minute when we were attacked by terrorists. September 11—the day when firefighters, police, baristas, military men, Wall Street traders, tourists, janitors and priests were assassinated. It is our generation’s “day that will live in infamy” as president Franklin Roosevelt described the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which ignited our participation in WWII.
As I sat in my car, I looked back at the scene again. The firefighters were still standing at attention—still and stoic. Their hearts were no doubt with their fallen comrades. But, knowing firefighters as I do (family members, neighbors and friends), their hearts were no doubt standing also with every fallen soul on that day, and for every American nestled between our shores who survived them.
It was then that I noticed someone else standing with them. He was not in uniform, and appeared to be a little too old to be a firefighter. He was a citizen; a neighbor; a man honoring those of our community who perished, and paying tribute to our country, and to every human who lives in our land. A tribute to “we the people…”
Sometimes it seems that it has been eleven years since we stood together as a country. The feeling of a divisive nation is heightened during the “silly season” of this presidential election. But today, I was reminded of the importance of community, of honoring our neighbors and of being our brother’s, and sister’s keepers. We’re all in this together, people—not only during times of crisis and remembrance, but every day, and every minute of the day.