Monday, September 11, 2006

Capturing the moment


This came in an e-mail from good friend Rabih over in the Middle East. He is Lebanese and proud of it, but very aware of the world around him. He lived in the U.S. during his undergraduate years in New England.

My Dear Friends from America,

    I'm writing to tell you that my thoughts and feelings are with you and the American people on this special day that marks five years since September 11. Today is day of remembrance, of meditation, of emotion. Though the whole world was affected by the events of 9/11, and in many ways a new world order came to be as a result, on this day my thoughts are with the three thousand and more families whose lives were changed. Everything can be rebuilt but the loss of a loved one is forever. On this day I also take a moment to stand up straight and give salute to the oh so brave men and women who against all odds rushed to the scenes that people were fleeing and risked their lives to give a helping hand. I recall the words of our Lord: "Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Theirs is story of courage, of bravery, of unquestionable love. They are real heroes.

    Today is an important day for us, the alive and the capable. An important day for you, especially as Americans. It is a day of judgment and accountability. As we reflect on the memory of the lost ones, as we stand before their graves, we ask ourselves: What have we said and what have we done so that those who died did not do so in vain? Has it been right? Has it been enough? It is a great feeling of inner void to stand before those who have sacrificed their all, willingly or not, and to look into the eyes of the heroes who gave their all, realising that we could have contributed more. September 11 lies two weeks before memorial day of the fallen soldiers of the Lebanese Forces. Every year I stand somberly as I count my overdues. Those of you who have had the chance--or have made it point--to visit Normandy Memorial Site in Northern France, which lies only a few hundred feet from one of the D-Day beaches, would perhaps know what I'm talking about. For two hours, I did not utter a single word. At times I found it hard to stand up as the overwhelming sense of respect kept bringing me to my knees. There is no raised Lebanese flag and no Lebanese soldier in the earth of this site. They fell for a war not fought in my country or for the liberation of my country. They fell in a war that ended almost two generations before I was born. But they laid their lives for principles that define my being: freedom, sovereignty, dignity, justice, human rights, and peace. That is enough for me to hold myself and my conscious accountable before their deeds, as I believe any responsible and aware citizen of the free world should. Those who died in September 11 were not in a war. They were not in battle for a just cause. They did not volunteer to die. Death was wickedly brought upon them by those--independent of race and religion--who chose to revolt against the principles of the free world. They are the victims and the martyrs of those principles, and as such we owe them a lot. Today is a day when we question what have we done? What have our governments done? I am not the person to judge, right or wrong, the results of the American government, the Lebanese government, and the many other nation's governments "war on terror". Only time will tell. But as I reflect on this day, I ask whether we would have accomplished more and given back more, had our governments, motivated by our individual and collective intentions, instead fought for "a commitment for justice and peace". These are my thoughts at least, which I share with you.

The reality is that September 11 happens everyday in many countries of the world. We are all responsible for stopping September 11 and not letting it happen ever again, for the memory of the fallen, for ourselves, and for our children and their children. 

My thoughts and prayers are with you, America.

Rabih El-Khoury 


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