The impact of 9/11: Positive lessons learned from loss

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Fifteen years ago today, the world felt the deep pain as 2,996 lives were brought to a sudden and tragic end. 2,996 people who were our friends, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, or coworkers were erased from our paths. 2,996 faces that will no longer give you a warm smile on the street. 2,996 who wouldn’t go home to hug their loved ones that night.

The tragedy has caused so much grief that it is still felt profoundly on this day every year. It is out of respect for the grieving and those left behind by this monstrous attack that finding the positive impact of their loss is important for healing or coping.

The following is a list of the positive lessons gained from 9/11. The experiences of those who helped others. Though the wound still feels fresh, the American spirit lingers on.

1. Americans Came Together

People banded together in solidarity. Churches, schools, and other community centered groups focused on helping the survivors, the firefighters, and the police. There were volunteers to help sort through the wreckage. There were many efforts to reunite lost loved ones. After September 11, Over 36,000 units of blood were donated to the New York blood center. Vigils, prayer groups, and memorials were held across the nation. It brought us close together, even for a short time and it reminded us of the importance of human compassion and the fragility of life.

2. The world stood up to support the United States

9/11 memorial in Padova, Italy.

People from all over the world were part of those who were lost that day. In the following days, the world showed their thoughts and sympathy for our loss in many small but very meaningful ways.

In Bangladesh, people gathered in Mosques to pray for the victims of the attacks. In London, The Star Spangled banner played during the changing of the guard. In Beijing, tens of thousands of people left flowers and memorial gifts on the sidewalk outside of the US embassy. On September 12, a powerful article from Le Monde, a French newspaper, emerged with the headline “Nous Sommes tous Americains” We are all Americans.

3. Charities, Foundations and Organizations were founded

The September 11 National day of Service and Remembrance is a non-profit event that encourages people to get out and volunteer in their community as productive  way to honor victims, survivors, and families. The nationalservice.gov website explains: “Starting in 2002, 9/11 family members and support groups wanted to provide a productive and respectful way to honor the memory of those who were lost while also rekindling the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after 9/11

There are also several non-profit charities and foundations that were inspired by the tragedy of 9/11. From College scholarships, helping the victims rebuild their lives, and donations to the red cross, there are many positive organizations working to enrich the lives of those effected.

4. First Responders are being honored and recognized

Police, firefighters, EMT’s, dispatchers, and other forms of everyday heroes are noticed and honored. The tragedy sheds light on all the efforts put forth by community heroes. Nearly 356 police, paramedics, and firefighters lost their lives on 9/11.

Thousands more took time away from their jobs in the community to volunteer with the search and rescue efforts. Now annually, several memorials and commemorations are held for the brave men and women who soared to the rescue on that fateful day or during its aftermath. Many, many more people registered with the military as a result of that day. While, our community heroes deserve recognition every day, September 11 is a reminder of why we call them heroes in the first place.

5. It’s a testament to America’s unwavering spirit

A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 in Washington, D.C..

Americans may have been struck but the disaster highlighted our strengths as a country. Airport security may be tighter, trust may be harder to gain from others but the events that united us during that horrible time is a true symbol of American persistence and defiance against attacks. Compassion flowed from all over the world and helped us back on to our feet.

We still stand, though our legs may be shaking. We still rise up against the odds, though our hearts may be pounding. Americans still travel in planes and work in impressive skyscrapers. The villains that caused this tragedy did not shake our will, our spirit, or our freedom. And as long as we keep moving forward, the terrorists will never win.

Krissie Schmidt
Krissie Schmidt is a dreamer of dreams, freelance writer, and mother of three. When she's not busy saving the world from the monsters in closets or washing sippy cups, Krissie can be found questioning her choice of preset workouts while on her elliptical, cooking delicious southern fare, and unintentionally creating crafting fails. Krissie is passionate about writing and aspires to be a successful novelist.