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Happy Birthday Jack

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Posted 11th September 2011 at 10:16 AM by Michael Hackett
Tags 9/11

I can only watch so much of the 9/11 memorial services on television, only read so much on the web, in the newspapers. I am quite easily - too easily, emotionally overwhelmed by the sadness; the tremendous cost in lives, lives that were precious, lives that are missed every day since.

I still cry on seeing Memorial Day and Veteran's Day ceremonies - all those lives, again: D-Day, Armistice Day, Pearl Harbor Day, and on and on - and I wasn't even born when the events they mark took place. Lives given for us, lives given so that we have freedom to be as we are in our current situation, for better or worse, whatever that may be. I see the fields of crosses, the fields in France where poppies grow, springing forth from the ground each year to remind us that life goes on eternal, even after we pass.

All those fields of crosses. Who among us can watch the end of "Saving Private Ryan," see all those fields of crosses, and not be moved, overwhelmed, touched? Not me. "Earn this" were the Captain's last words to Private Ryan. Earn this: this time you have here. Make it count for something. Do "something" with your life.

Those that lost their lives on 9/11 though, were not soldiers rushing to battle to save us from an evil foe. They were ordinary citizens going about their daily, "ordinary" lives. The first responders saw nothing else but to do their best to save whomever they could, and so many of them were lost doing their duty - to save "us" - the ordinary citizen. That is what they do. None of us can forget the dust-covered faces, the look of shock and despair. Their memory still haunts. And of course, we all remember where we were that morning - what we were doing when we heard the news.

In the days that followed 9/11, what I remember most, is there was so much quiet. We were all in some sort of national shock I know, but the quiet. I've never heard such quiet. There were no jets leaving vapor trails above us, all the sit-coms and comedy shows on television were put on hold, and there were no "Law and Order," "CSI," episodes, or any other shows about suffering - "false suffering" as someone cleverly coined it. Suffering that was made up for our entertainment was seen in a new light. Decorum and respect for one another took hold for a while. We looked at each other in the grocery stores with some sort of connection. We KNEW we all belonged to one human family, and in that instance, we were human beings of the American family - no matter our race, religion, age, or background. We were united, and for a moment understood the unity.

As I write this, a train whistle is blowing in the distance, as one would have done ten years ago, as one may have done a hundred years ago. It moves on down the tracks through the night, through all kinds of weather, heading to it's destination. It makes me think, how we all need to keep moving forward, through the darkest of nights, as well as the sunny blessed days, and "earn it" as Private Ryan's character, even in the midst of his doubt had surely done.

Ten years later, we have much to reflect on: what have we done with our lives? What are we doing with our lives now? Are we "earning it?" Each day, no matter how I feel, I remind myself how lucky I am. I count my blessings. I try to be the best friend, employee, son, brother, uncle, stranger or Samaritan, I can be. I fall short at times yes, but I am grateful to be here, to have the chance to share this life with all of you. Some of you I saw the other day, some I haven't seen in 10 or 20 years. Some of you, related to me, I have never met in the physical, but all of you have added to the rich fabric of my life, and it would not be the same without you. You are each and every one, appreciated.

I have learned with the benefit of years to always choose first, to see a glass half full. The only other option brings no benefit to anyone. My Godson Jack, was born exactly one year after the "events" of 9/11. I feel blessed that his wonderful mother thought me worthy to be his Godfather. I choose to focus on things such as that for this day, on what Jack, just by his being, has already brought to us, and the promise of what he will bring to our world. He and his little brother Stevie have some sort of notion about a "Peace Army." I will look forward to what that idea brings. Happy Birthday Jack.
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