9-11 Reflections from Superintendent Bennardo

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It is difficult to believe that 14 years have passed since the September 11, 2001 attack upon our nation. It is equally surreal to consider that each year brings an increasing number of young people for whom this anniversary represents a distant date in history, rather than the moment when life in America actually stood still. I'm not sure whether it is the increased gray in our temples, or additional wrinkle lines in our foreheads, but as the years fly by, something compels our generation to safeguard the legacy of that fateful day. While our contemporaries will undoubtedly recall exactly where they were as the calm of the crystal clear September morning was shattered and our nation forever transformed, the real enduring lesson is found in the heroism and unity that 9-11 engendered.  Although there is no denying the horrible pictures of destruction and unthinkable images of human loss, there is also a crystal clear memory of unquestioned bravery and genuine sacrifice.

From the ashes of fallen buildings and burning planes emerged a feeling of unity that galvanized Americans like no time since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is simply impossible to forget the vision of first responders charging into danger to save the lives of people they had never met, or thousands of ordinary citizens lined up to give blood, donate food for rescuers, or simply offer prayers to community members in need. And who can forget the sweet voices of schoolchildren across the country singing God Bless America, or the priceless pictures of Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, and liberals standing side-by-side reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before the waving Stars and Stripes. For me, the take away lesson from 9-11 is that the things that bind our people will always be stronger than issues that divide us. While those that wish to do us harm might misinterpret our spirited discourse as a lack of national will, our robust debate is in fact a sign of our individual and collective freedoms. The fact is that the "better angels in our national soul" will always shine through in our country's hour of maximum need. We are at our very best when the way of life we embrace is challenged by forces outside our national family. We might squabble amongst ourselves, but the "wagons are always circled" in unbreakable unity when our fundamental values are challenged by those who underestimate our resolve.

So what better way to recognize this 9-11 anniversary than by loving our families, serving our communities, and giving thanks for a Nation that still serves as a beacon of freedom for people across the globe.

Be well, Dave Bennardo