September 11, 2001 showed the full horrors determined hatefulness can inflict – the murder of nearly three thousand and injury of thousands more. So many cruelly taken and a county left traumatized by the painful loss. In the sixteen years since, we New Yorkers have mourned with cities on continents around the world as they have suffered attacks fueled by similar hatefulness.
And yet the September 11th attacks also showed the wisdom of Nancy Roger’s message to her son, Fred Rogers: “Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers.” The FDNY, NYPD, emergency workers, nurses and doctors, co-workers, neighbors, and countless fellow New Yorkers who all stood up to help one another – they were the helpers. Helping one another through the stairwell of a tower catastrophically damaged, helping through the grief of the loss of a loved one, helping through the shock and fear of a world forever changed.
As we pause to remember the victims and survivors, let us also remember the true heroism of the helpers. Heroism that shines through all these years later. Let us remember their courage, their determination, and their sacrifice. What’s more, let us endeavor to be the helpers our world needs today. In the wake of unspeakable cruelty and in the wake of natural disasters, let us lift up that spirit of compassion, community, and common decency that guides our helpers, our first responders, that fateful day and every day.