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A Tuesday In September

Ground Zero in New York with an American Flag placed in one of the names
September 11, 2020
Todd Gaddy

Why is today so significant?

Nearly 3,000 reasons come to mind.And a couple others.

For those of us who look back to a Tuesday nearly two decades ago, we instantly possess, if for only a day, two invaluable things. Humility and perspective.

If you’re too young to remember it, take my word. That morning nineteen years ago, the world felt really small.

In a matter of moments, almost everything changed. Our confidence convulsed. A gaping hole tore through our exceptionalism. And we watched with horror the what and the how, marked in real-time the when, and searched our understanding in vain for the who and the why. Our national knees hit the ground hard.

We were humbled. All of us.

And simultaneously we realized what was actually most important in life.


Not politics. Not winning arguments. Not sports. Not opinions that a later social media would inflame.


The possession of it. And the things in it.

Family. Children. Friends. Neighbors. Faith. Things carved into the granite of our existence. Stable, sometimes-forgotten, unmovable things. Things broken hearts and minds reach for.

Here’s a hard truth. September 12th is coming. Today’s pause and reflection is going to be replaced. By uglier things. We’re going to shift away as quickly as we were plunged in.


Because humility’s not comfortable. Control is king. Or so we think.

And perspective is hard. Horizontal theatrics are so much easier than vertical thinking. Forging ahead beats pulling up. Or so we think.

So, before the day’s over and that unfortunate and inevitable shift occurs, a couple of reminders.

Let’s love people. Let’s cast aside hidden hoops, qualified kindness, and the tendency to huddle with people just like us. If we leave a residue, let it attract and not repel.

As we passionately debate, let’s not do it poorly. Resist the blood-thirsty choir. Stop the inane shares. Discover what dialogue means. Two ears, one mouth. Let’s use them proportionately. As we seek to make points, may we do so without making enemies.

And may the memory of what happened nineteen years ago soften our rough edges, remind us of what we have in common with one another, and cause us to believe that humbled, misty-eyed people learn well, walk worthy, and never forget.

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