Monday, September 10, 2012

Fight Every Day

What happened on September 11th, 2001 has impacted my life in more ways I could have imagined since I was nine. There is something about the day and every day after that we have spent trying to recover and move on that has fascinated me. From a writer's point of view, you learn to stick fast to things that help you grow your words and 9/11 has always been one of those things for me. For whatever reason, it's easy for me to write about. Last year I wrote an essay commemorating the ten year anniversary of all those lives lost. But it doesn't have to be read at just ten years. So this year, eleven years later, I want to re-share that piece. If you're re-reading it, thank you and I hope it means as much to you as the first time. If this is your first reading, be sure that everything I say in it is 100% the truth. From my heart to yours....

Fight Every Day

There’s a shelf in the archives of American History that is dedicated for the most horrific, the most painful events we’ve ever endured. On this shelf sits the Civil War, Pearl Harbor and, of course, September 11, 2001. These events, along with many more, have tested our country’s strength, courage and ability to get back on our feet after being knocked down.
I’m a 9/11 kid, a member of the generation that grew up alongside terrorist threats, Anthrax scares and x-ray machines at the airport. The headlines of the magazines from my childhood read ‘World War 3?’ and ‘Death Tolls Rise Overseas’.  Osama Bin Laden became as well known a name as Scooby-Doo.
I was nine years old when the towers fell. The pictures and details from that week are as scattered as the ashes from the wreckage. Details like: I was eating crackers when my mom told me and: our TV screen had too much dust on it to see the footage properly. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I knew it wasn’t good.
When I was fourteen, I wrote an essay called the Day the Two Towers Fell, which won first place in a national competition. I’ve written poems about that day, I’ve read books by survivors. Yet, I’m eighteen years old and to some, I’m still too young to understand. But I understand this:
I understand life is when someone is living and death is when someone has died. I understand that on that day, hundreds of people entered those pearly gates before their time. I’ve seen the tears running down the faces and I’ve heard the screams of those who’ve lost too much. Any child who has watched dozens of people commit suicide out of a burning building understands that the world is not a perfect place. I may not have known the details but sometimes it’s not the details that count. Sometimes, all you need is the big picture to recognize a tragedy.
All those lives we’ve lost, we can’t get them back. There’s no way to bring back the dead; the line between life and death is a one-way street. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. But it’s also okay to feel strong and proud.
It’s okay to fight.
Fight with what you have. Fight with words, paintings and music. Fight with business maneuvers, lawsuits and midnight surgeries. Fight with patience and prayer.
Fight with your heart.
Because every moment we fight for what we believe is one more second we spend making a difference. There’s not many in this world that can make a big enough change to affect everyone. We can’t all be celebrities, professional athletes, the president. But if all of us make one difference, even one in our entire lifetime, it will add up to this little thing called change. And change is what keeps us moving forward.
So when I fight tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, I fight for those who died ten years ago. I’ll be fighting for the heroes who risked their lives, for the pilots, for the innocent bystanders on the street. You know what? I’ll even fight for the terrorists because in my mind, everyone deserves to be fought over. I’m not saying I forgive them, I’m not saying what they did was okay or even that I don’t hate them. Because there is a part of me that hates them and that’s okay too.
When you remember September 11th, fight for those who died but never give up on those still living because we’re the ones who are going to make things right.

~M.T. Rossi

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