On the Anniversary of September 11, Remember. Feel. Act.

John B. Wood
September 9, 2022 • 3 min read

Today, we remember the events of September 11, 2001. We remember the thousands of Americans killed, the loved ones they left behind, the survivors, and the heroes who worked courageously and tirelessly that day.

We also remember with pride the resiliency and strength of the American spirit that arose in the days, weeks, and months that followed that unfathomable act of terror. We endured. We persevered. We took tragedy and turned it into strength.

It is hard to describe the emotions that swept over the country in the autumn of 2001. United in shared grief and purpose, we put aside our differences, uncertainty, and fear. We came together, showed up, and took care of one another. I remember my own feelings as a new father, and my overwhelming desire to help make the world a safer and better place for the next generation.

A phrase often associated with the anniversary of September 11 is “Never forget.”

As I look at the state of our great country today, I question whether we are still committed to living out that sentiment. Twenty-one years after September 11, I see a fractured country. The words “Never forget” ring hollow.

Shared purpose, resilience, and patriotic pride are eclipsed by partisanship, a lack of empathy, and disconnectedness. There is growing intolerance of those that think differently than ourselves. We harbor animosity toward coworkers and neighbors. The splinters in our country have even seeped into and caused painful division within families.

As a country, we seem to have collective short-term memory. We have forgotten what we felt so fiercely in the days and weeks following September 11, 2001: We are of one citizenship. One republic. One United States of America.

On this anniversary of September 11, I encourage you to pause to remember. Not only to reclaim the spirit of post-9/11 America, but also to instill hope in the younger generation – many of whom have no recollection of that day. Share where you were when the planes hit. Remind them of what this country is capable of in the face of tragedy. Make September 11 more than a tragic historical event shared on social media. Remember it also as a moment in history when America showed up at its finest amidst its darkest days.

Most of all, demonstrate that human resilience, hope, and connection arise from tragedy. It starts in our own backyard, by looking beyond labels and political bumper stickers and remembering what unites us. Give your time, talents, and resources – care for each other.

One way I remember and honor the strength and resiliency of the human spirit is through Project Rebirth. The film, “Rebirth” documents a 10-year time-lapse of the rebuilding of Ground Zero and tells the stories of five individuals involved in the 9/11 attacks. I encourage everyone to watch this powerful documentary.

I believe in this country, and I know we can reignite the passion, hope, and commitment we felt in the months following 9/11. Our shared history on September 11, 2001 – as painful as it is – makes us stronger.

Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of repairing cracked and broken pottery using gold-dusted tree sap. The result is a one-of-a-kind, beautiful piece of art that does not hide or disguise cracks or imperfections, but embraces the piece’s history and brokenness.

To me, it’s a powerful reminder that the enduring scars from September 11, 2001, are a reminder of hope, endurance, and strength of the human spirit, and we are stronger and more resilient as a result. 

John B. Wood
CEO of Telos Corporation
John B. Wood is the chairman and CEO of Telos Corporation. Follow him on Twitter: @john_b_wood
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