It’s ten years later. News broadcasts will replay video of the horrible incidents we all saw live on September 11th, 2001. Nearly 3,000 people were cremated by jet planes flying into buildings in New York and Washington D.C.
May I take a moment and remind you of some of the most positive lessons that came from that fateful day?
Heroes emerged everywhere. In fact, since that time ordinary people have made a lifestyle out of responding to crises. Bill Keegan is a great example. A lieutenant with the Port Authority police at the time, he was unable to think straight the day after it all happened. He had lost some of his closest colleagues.
On September 12th, Bill set up a command center and organized 300-400 volunteers, active and retired cops, and construction workers. His team bonded as they dug through the rubble to find bodies. Only when it was all over, nine months later did things fall apart. Money, church meetings or grief recovery groups were not enough. Bill Keegan knew he had to get his team together again and “get outside themselves.”
Fifty men who’d worked with him at Ground Zero immediately jumped at the chance. They missed the sense of humanity, humility, the humor and the honor of serving others in the midst of tragedy. The group traveled down to New Orleans after Katrina, Haiti after the earthquake, Nashville after the flood—actually 26 other disasters since 9/11. He has started a non-profit to respond and serve people.
Bill and thousands of others like him would tell you—serving others has saved their lives. Helping brings healing. One way to push back against despair is to volunteer and give your life away. It’s a lesson most of us learn only when we face tragedy.
I mourn with those who lost someone on September 11th. I rejoice, however, at the good that’s come from that disaster. May we always remember both realities.