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Reflecting on 9/11, 20 years later

Courtesy of ROH Member, Tom Creighton

For reasons not readily apparent to me, I felt the need to share with you my thoughts today 20 years after 9-11. I hold you in my heart each day, so I needed to share these feelings from deep in my heart.

I remember 20 years ago today like it was yesterday.

Dennis and I were trapped at a conference in Miami Beach. We were frantically trying to get ahold of someone who would know if Sarah was safe in Madrid. I forgot Jake was in Tokyo. I knew Rob and Laura were safe, but had no idea for some time if Jens was safe. It was terrifying.

We then learned Jens was in the air on his way home from Florida. Laura heard that planes were ordered to land, and from what she knew about Jens' flight pattern and time of departure, he would most likely land in Memphis, one of the airline's hubs. She had the moxie to call a motel in Memphis and reserve a room for Jens. He was one of the few stranded passengers who got a place to stay for four days.

As for Sarah, I think we were told by the State department or Northwestern (I forget who we finally got through to) that the embassy in Madrid was contacting American citizens to tell them to get to the embassy. She would be safe.

Dennis and I had rented a car for us and two more for my associates to get around Miami Beach. National rent-a-car contacted us to advise that they would wave relocation and mileage charges so we could drive ourselves back to Minnesota. I will forever try to rent our cars from National because of that gesture.

The hotel also extended our stay until the airports opened up. They either comped the days or gave them for very reduced prices. The entire nation pulled together.

I'll never forget stopping at a 7-11 in Georgia to get some food. There was a large older woman of color behind the counter. We both looked at each other and just shook our heads. She reached across the counter, took my hand and said:

"It's gonna be OK, baby. We all gonna be OK!"

She took my breath away and gave me great hope in that singular act of compassion.

It sure hasn't taken us long to get out of that mood as a nation, but I believe that spirit is still buried deep out here somewhere. Let's all try to be as compassionate as that woman in Georgia and insist that our children do the same.

There was a man on tv today who spent over a year on clean-up at the site of the disaster and has worked since to get help for the thousands who died or are still ill from the aftermath. He said something I had never heard, but is how I have tried to live my life since a bad-news doctor's visit in June 1977. He said:

"Many people will try to encourage us by saying 'you only live once'! That's a lie. The truth is you only die once, you live anew every day!"

Let's all try that.

Love you all. Sorry, I'm just in one of those moods; I'm so thankful for all of you, and so thankful to be alive.

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