Living Forward - Out of the Ashes of 9/11


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We all have our own personal memories of the unthinkable, unspeakable, unimaginable events of that bright September morning five years ago today. Each remembers what they were doing at the moment of shocking realization that we had been attacked.

We have fought for balance between ridding our minds of the nightmarish images, and vowing never to forget, to keep our resolve strong. Far better equipped analysts and more eloquent commentators than I have covered all aspects of the events of that day, historical, geopolitical, religious, psychological and emotional.

I’d like to focus briefly on the good and valuable that has risen Phoenix-like from the ashes. And I’d like to ask each subscriber to The Commonsense Communiqué and those who I hope you will forward this to, to continue with your own personal observations. I’ll start the ball rolling.

1. We have identified fear, facing it head on for the insidious and cowardly weapon it is and always has been, and many of us have taken steps to destroy it at its roots.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which always paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. " Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) First Inaugural Address

Terrorists bank on the paralysis – it’s their only weapon capable of disabling millions. But we have a choice. Fear must be chosen and we have taken steps as a nation to reject it.

2. Many have set their resolve to no longer wait and postpone their future, to do what they know they are called to – now. Tomorrow has never been guaranteed us, but this attack brought with it a new realization of that with a greater clarity.

Since that day, one man I know left a promising career to become a paramedic and fire fighter, against all odds and at the greatest personal sacrifice. But the events of 9/11 brought home to him that he was not where he was meant to be.

It was anything but an easy transition and without the horror of that day perhaps he never would have considered it. It would be difficult to know how many lives will be affected because he made that decision.

This is just one of countless thousands who have thus examined their own lives and changed direction as a result.

3. We’ve got on with life, as a nation, displaying our celebrated American resilience. We are unlike any other country on earth. With our multiplicity of backgrounds and ethnicities, we are descended from folks who came to these shores ready to dig in and pitch in and carry on no matter what, in order to be a part of the grandest experiment in government in human history.

My own father, like so many immigrants of his day, was so proud of his American citizenship he never spoke his native Swedish except in lullabies and when adding columns of figures. He never forgot what a privilege it is to be an American.

4. Many of us learned to cherish,

- The moments with family, the precious faces and the dear voices, remembering to leave no loving word unspoken for another time,

- Friends and co-workers, expressing not only affection, but appreciation for their presence in our lives,

- Our own precious lives and the daily opportunity to make them matter, to do something of significance with them, to make a difference with the gift of each day.

5. Finally, we have, as a nation, learned to appreciate in a new way our first line of defense, our military personnel who are daily prepared to lay down their lives on our own and foreign shores.

And we have gained (and I pray we will maintain) a new respect for fire fighters, medics, police, the many trained critical incident stress debriefers and the chaplains who are ever on the scene of a disaster, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others like them who quietly appear wherever people suffer. These are the heroes of this story, in our midst and on our behalf – as they have always been.

We cannot now reverse the horrific loss of life, or restore the lives that are forever changed by disaster of this magnitude, but we can learn to look forward and we can vow to rise stronger from the ashes.

In a trip through the steel mills as a child, with my father who was a steel man, I asked why the massive bars of steel were not destroyed by their repeated firings in the huge blast furnaces. He told me that only those huge ingots with faulty raw materials were destroyed by the fire, but that same fire produced the strongest steel – if the raw material was sound.

America has been through the fire before and will undoubtedly go through it again. She has emerged stronger and with greater resolve each time. We have no reason to believe otherwise of her today.

God Bless America – and the amazing people who have made her great.

Copyright 2006 So-lu'shunz Leadership Services

Karin Syren CTACC, is a Strategic Planning Coach for Life & Leadership employing the versatile EffectivenessCoaching Model. She works with those who desire to gain greater leadership of their own lives, increasing personal and professional effectiveness by guiding them through the process of learning to live more powerful and significant lives right now. If you want to discover what makes you unique and form your future around it, contact Karin through her website at for information on you can benefit personally from the empowering Strategic Life Planning Program.


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