Throughout all the years that I knew Bob’s grandpa on his mother’s side, we all knew with certainty that he hated having his picture taken. So much so, that he would look away, or glare at the camera. We all just knew that any picture he was in would have him looking angerly away, and that made us sad sometimes, but there was nothing we could do to change things. I often wondered why he wouldn’t just cooperate, but we all assumed that he simply hated having his picture taken…badly enough to practically throw a fit about it. It got to the point where it was easier to leave him out or to let him be grouchy about it.
As I was going through some of the old pictures from my in-laws’ house, I came across a few pictures here and there, that were a little different. The grouchy look was gone, and he was looking at the camera. I began to wonder about something else…like what could have happened to make him hate having his picture taken. He wasn’t always that way. The pictures proved that. Life can change people sometimes. Sadness can take away their smiles, and every life has some sadness in it, but I couldn’t think of a deep sadness that had happened to him since these pictures were taken. So what could it be? What could have stolen his smiles, and turned him into someone who didn’t want his picture taken?
Since Grandpa died in 1985, I suppose that we will never know. It saddens me that he died with some deep dark sadness still living inside him. It saddens me that we never got to see the other side of him…the side of him that had smiles and laughter in it, because I think that side would have been very nice to know. I wonder why he locked that part of himself away? No, I guess we will never know what happened to Grandpa to make him that way. But, after looking at the pictures of his smiling face, looking directly at the camera, holding my brother-in-law, Ron when he was a baby and his smiling face looking lovingly at his mother, I will always know that there was a time when things were very different.
As we all know, today is the 11th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in United States history. September 11, 2001 was as horrible as it gets, but while it was designed to destroy us, the terrorists did not understand the strength of this country and it’s people. The people of this nation are survivors. When we are attacked, we fight back. We do not give up. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2977 innocent victims, and 19 hijackers…who I like to think of as executed. These misguided men thought they were doing something great, but they had a rude awakening when they hit eternity. The fires from the planes were nothing compared to the fires of hell.
What followed the attacks was some of the greatest displays of heroics known to mankind. Rescue workers, from police, firemen, and port authority, to ordinary people sprang into action. They were the ones not running from the building, they were running into the building, or staying in the building instead of running to escape. These people valued the life of others over and above their own…knowing that their actions would most likely bring their own death. What kind of person is so selfless? Their actions went so against the normal reaction to this kind of situation. Normally your reaction is to save yourself…run…survive, but not these people. They chose to save others…to go into the buildings…to rescue, to sacrifice themselves so that others would survive. That is the greatest gift, as the Bible says in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And many of these people didn’t even know the people that they were laying down their lives for. In the face of hate, these heroes loved their fellow man, and did everything in their power to save them.
Everyday, rescue workers and ordinary people make the choice to put others ahead of themselves. Sometimes it is life threatening situations, and sometimes it is saving structures and forests, but the actions are the same. Without regard for their own lives these heroes rush in to save. Today, we remember all those who were lost in the horrible attacks of September 11, 2001, rescue workers and innocent victims alike. It doesn’t matter how their lives were lost. What matters is that their lives were precious and taken from them far too soon. What matters is that they stood bravely in the face of hate, and showed the world that love wins in the end. Those people, those innocent victims and rescue workers deserve to be remembered forever. Their attackers don’t. They chose their fate. They embodied the face of hate that brought out the love…the very best in the people of this country. In the face of hate, our people showed love to one another. There is no greater love on this earth.