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Americans All

[9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Week]

She was beautiful.

Dressed in a fashionable ensemble, a dusty rose hijab with black piping covering her hair, she stood hesitant, alone, lost.

I asked how I could help. Her voice quiet, reserved, she told me her son was not quite 19 years old when he was called to the towers on 9/11 as a first responder.

No, this 18-year-old young man did not die that day, at least not in the physical sense. Instead, what he saw that day brought him to a place for the living dead – into the world of addiction. Her son was living and breathing, but for 8 long years, they lost him to the downward spiral that was the world of drugs.

But they never gave up on him.

And now he was on his feet, clean and sober, struggling to view the world with clear and steady eyes.  He wasn’t yet ready to view the reality of the museum, so his mother was here in his stead.

If only we could offer easy answers for his difficult questions, but we are not foolish in the aftermath.

She grabbed both of my hands and clutched them tightly.

“You can probably tell I’m Muslim. I almost didn’t come today because I didn’t know how I would be received. I didn’t know if I would be accepted.”

My heart broke.

“We are all Americans here,” I answered softly, squeezing her hand in reassurance. “We’re different, but yet we’re all the same.”

After all, those we lost on 9/11 represented more than 90 countries. And she, in a way, lost her son for 8 long years, but at least got him back.

Three thousand other families could not say the same.

Muslim? Christian? Hindu? Buddhist? Agnostic? Atheist? Something else?

It didn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter.

We all lost some one, some thing, a part of ourselves that day. Let us stand united.

Hate solves nothing, while love and peace benefit all.

We are One.

9 11 wall

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