What kind of courage does it take to forget yourself and run into a burning building? What kind of person can set themselves aside, possibly recognizing their ultimate fate, and seek the good of others? The men and women who were first responders on 9/11, whether in New York, Pennsylvania, or Washington D.C., and the men and women who, later, spent countless hours searching, cleaning, restoring, and memorializing the lost.
I still think back on that day, and the unreality of it all. I was in Massachusetts then, about 3 hours north of NYC, and we felt "close" to it all, even though we weren't. I still can't imagine what it must have been like, arriving at that smoking building, knowing there was multitude of people trapped inside. What courage it must have taken to cross the threshold into a nightmare we can't imagine. And, yet, this situation was not completely new to the first responders, and they probably entered without a thought, just doing their job.
It makes me think of honor. It's a word we throw around lightly in our society, like "love." "I love that hat," "I love cheeseburgers." These words seem to be meaningless awash in the constant chatter of our digital world. But they are not lost, and they are not meaningless.
The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. -- Socrates
The men and women who were first responders, the victims who left messages for their loved ones, those who courageously fought back against their captors, the men and women who painstakingly searched and rebuilt...these people are the definition of honor.
When you return to work or school tomorrow, after our unrecognized federal holiday, I challenge you to live your lives with honor--be who you pretend to be. In doing so, you will honor the memories of those that died on this day, and those that lived.