by Sol Marburg
On the fourteenth anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall our nation, we all took a moment to think and remember.
Thousands of families across the country remember the lives of their loved ones who were ripped from them over a decade ago. Victims on the planes, in the towers, first responders, and everyday heroes who lost their lives to hatred and intolerance, all of them still alive in our thoughts on this day, as they should be every day.
For those of us, such as myself, not old enough to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we can only see the faces of those older than us, and watch with horror the news reels and live footage from that day and know in our minds that each of our lives is drastically different because of this horrific event. We think of the heroes who selflessly gave their all to help their fellow human beings, both those who survived and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We also keep in mind that despite this immense tragedy, America, and, more importantly, Americans, showed their true strength, determination and compassion in helping one another through this time. Your parents, grandparents, teachers, older siblings, all of them will remember vividly that precise moment when they realized the severity of what occurred. And all of them no doubt remember the struggle to cope emotionally, even though they may not have personally known a victim. They will also no doubt remember the tremendous sense of resilience, unity and patriotism that allowed us to find our way out of this darkest tunnel. We keep all this in mind and remember just how lucky we are to live where we live, surrounded by those who love and support us.
At the same time, though, it is important that we recall a second victim of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. On that day, life changed for several million American Muslims, as for it did for every American. From that day on, our nation would no longer look at them the same way. Because of the actions of a few individuals so far on the fringes of extremism that I hesitate to even mention them as being of the same faith, every Muslim in the country now wore a label on their head. Many of us subconsciously (and unfortunately, a few vocally and actively) painted all people who followed the teachings of Islam as anti-American, as though they were all somehow the enemy.
I plead every 9/11, that as you are thinking and remembering all that occurred on that day, all that we lost and all that we learned, you keep them in mind. Remember that violence and extremism benefits no one and that those who commit such acts will end up harming the very group they claim to stand for. Think of every time a girl wearing a hijab gets snickers of “terrorist” behind her back in the school hallways, or every time a Muslim man is “randomly” selected at an airport to be taken into a back room for a full search.
When people commit acts of terror, there are no winners. No goal is accomplished. The only thing that is important to us is that, regardless of our race, religion or political affiliation, we are all Americans. We are all on the same team. Honestly, everyone in this world is on the same team. A lot of us just don’t realize it yet.
As a Jew, I find myself ever-amazed that people believe I am somehow the enemy of a Muslim teen, or vice versa. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, my own faith and the history that goes with it lead me to understand their position just a little bit more. We are all the same, and the sooner people realize that, the better. The notion that Omaha is at the forefront of this idea fills me with pride and gladness.
9/11 is a day to remember. It is a day to feel sadness and deep pain. But if for a moment you feel even the tiniest inkling of hate towards any but the specific individuals who carried out the attacks, I ask you to stop and remember these thoughts. This is not a day to hate. This is a day where we remember the vile things that hate is capable of and swear that we will never allow ourselves to hate in this way. In all of your remembering, do your best not to forget this.
Sol Marburg (17) is a senior at Westside High School and a 5th grade Madrich at Temple Israel. His interests include choir, the cycling team, debate, and DECA (marketing club).
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