Monday, September 13, 2010

9/11 and Hope

911 Memorial

On September 11 I was out of town and away from my computer. No matter where I am or what I am doing, September 11 brings a flood of emotion. Each year on the anniversary of the horrible day I am engulfed in a cloud of sadness and hurt as I reflect on all those lives that were so altered by the events on that day.

Vicksburg 911 Memorial

But this 9/11 was different. Gina and I were at an American Cancer Society Relay For Life Summit in Jackson, Mississippi. The purpose of the Summit is to inspire hope, courage and determination in the fight to eliminate cancer. If there is one word that defines Relay For Life it is "hope".

It is inspiring to spend time with hundreds of volunteers whose main objective is to provide hope for the all too many people who are affected by cancer. In a world that sometimes seems consumed with distrust and hatred of people who are different in race, religion or political beliefs, it filled me with hope to see a group of people who are willing to give of their money and time to benefit others and to give them hope.


As Gina and I watched the History channel programing Saturday evening in our hotel room in Vicksburg, Mississippi the tragedy of the day was once again uppermost in my mind. Watching the first person accounts of that day left me with a knot in my stomach and a feeling of sadness. As I was thinking about the terror of that day, I was drawn to the different ways people react and deal with it. Hatred has been in the news recently with the talk of burning the Koran and blaming every Muslim for the tragedy. Not everyone reacts with hatred. There is one group in particular that has harnessed the emotion of that terrible day for a good cause.

Each year on the 9/11 Anniversary, The New York Says Thank You Foundation sends hundreds of volunteers from New York along with disaster survivors from around the country to help rebuild communities around the United States recovering from disaster. It’s their way of saying “Thank You” for all the love and support Americans from across the country extended to New Yorkers in the days, weeks, and months following September 11.

This year they came to my community, Mena, Arkansas to help us rebuild after a tornado devastated much of the town in April 2009. You can read more about their efforts in Mena here.

National 911 Flag

As part of the ceremonies local service heroes from the community and surrounding towns placed ceremonial stitches in The National 9/11 Flag, a 30-foot American flag destroyed in the collapse of The World Trade Center on September 11. I was at the memorial service and was able to see and photograph that flag. To see these wonderful volunteers in action and to see this flag that the terrible events of September 11, 2001 couldn't destroy left me on this 9/11 anniversary filled with hope.


  1. I believe none of us will forget where we were on that terrible morning. But, the flag still waves proudly -- as you so wonderfully captured in your photo! :)

  2. It's so good to hear that some people are doing some good out of such tragedy.

  3. You always help me focus on things that really matter. I love coming here because I always remember that living out loud for Jesus is the best way to live. : )

    You don't even have to say His name. I can see him in every post and word. Thank you for sharing Him with so many. I will forever participate in Relay's for Life by donating or walking now that I know what they are all about. That is another way you have changed me. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for the inspirational post. It is important to remember the various contexts in which we live. Well said.

  5. Such a inspirational way to remember a dreadful day and make an occasion of hope out of it!

  6. Your tribute commemorating the tragic events of that day is just beautiful.

    God bless ya and have a great weekend!!!

  7. Your heartfelt words fill us all with hope.Your photos are colorful and inspiring. I signed up to follow you. Stop by my place and join the party.

  8. Thanks for your visit to my spring garden post. Great to hear from you, and to catch up here. It was very moving to hear of the people who came from New York with the flag to help rebuild your community after the tornado. What a wonderful thing that is. Thanks for telling us all about it.