Today is the 15th anniversary of the horrific series of terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 people from 93 different countries on September 11, 2001.
Like many Americans, I can still remember where I was when I first heard about this tragedy; I was at school, listening to the principal’s bewildered voice crackling over the PA system. And I can still remember watching the shocking footage of innocent people jumping to their deaths from the smoking Twin Towers before they collapsed into an unforgettable plume of dust and debris.
Today is unquestionably a day to remember those victims. It is unquestionably a day to remember those who lost loved ones to these twisted acts of violence. It is unquestionably a day to remember the thousands of heroic first responders who rushed to the scene, many of whom are still struggling with aftereffects of risking their own safety trying to save others.
And today is also unquestionably a day to remember the other victims of the September 11 attacks. Like the thousands of soldiers from around the world who have lost their lives in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Like countless others who have committed suicide or who continue to suffer from physical and mental health issues related to their deployments.
Today is a day to remember the tens of thousands of civilian victims of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and the hundreds of thousands of civilian victims of the invasion of Iraq — not to mention the environmental and cultural destruction that accompanied those actions.
Today is a day to remember the hundreds of innocent victims — including many children — killed by the ongoing campaign of drone strikes taking place across huge swaths of the globe.
Today is a day to remember the victims of the US torture program, like Gul Rahman, a suspected Al Qaeda member who died in a CIA black site after “being beaten, doused with cold water, and left half-naked while chained to the floor of his cell,” as VICE News reported.
And today is also a day to remember that the so-called “war on terror” continues apace, creating an untold number of new victims each and every day.
Today is a day to remember the prescient words of Rev. Nathan Baxter, the Dean of the National Cathedral who spoke at a memorial service for the victims of 9/11 on September 14, 2001:
“Let us now seek that assurance in prayer for the healing of our grief stricken hearts, for the souls and sacred memory of those who have been lost. Let us also pray for divine wisdom as our leaders consider the necessary actions for national security, wisdom of the grace of God that as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.”