Today here in CT where I live dawned much like that morning 10 years ago which really did change all our lives forever. A clear blue sky, a crispness of fall in the morning air, a day you were happy to get up and get going.
Unlike today, a Sunday, that September 11 ten years ago was a work day and I headed to Save the Children’s offices in Westport, CT after dropping various of my kids at the bus and school. For some reason, I did not have the radio on as was my usual habit, so I had no idea of the tragedy that was unfolding. One of my colleagues said to me rather off-handedly as I was coming into the building that a plane had run into the World Trade Center tower. I imagined a little plane and maybe a “dent” in the building, never imagining the horrendous events that would unfold.
After I went upstairs, the day just started going a million miles an hour, with many of us alternating between calling loved ones who worked or lived in New York (including for me my husband), trying to account for and reassure staff all around the world, and watching the horrible live imagines on the TV and our computer screens. Finally at about 2 we closed the offices so people could be home when their kids arrived from school.
As I think about that day and grieve for those who lost loved ones and for all of us, I also think about whether the world has changed enough to stop such a thing happening again. I don’t mean in terms of the airport screenings and concrete barriers around our government offices or the security precautions we all take for granted now at every high rise in every large city, but the changes in peoples hearts that lead them to such horrible acts. Sadly, the kinds of circumstances that led to 19 men crashing those 4 planes into buildings and fields, killing thousands of Americans still seem to be with us.
Having traveled to more than 50 countries in my work with Save the Children, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan, I would say there is much more to do. I believe one of the most important things we can do is to continue to educate children (and equally boys and girls) and make sure they have healthier lives that their parents have in the countries where extremism grows. A population that grows up to have choices is one where the kinds of events that happened on that other Sept 11 are less likely. Along with many other activities to reduce risks and the growth of extremism, we must continue to support programs and organizations that are focused on making sure children’s lives are better in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.
Today is surely a day to remember the events of 10 years ago but it is also a day to look ahead and think about what we can all do to REALLY change the world and make sure that there are no more September 11ths for anyone’s children.