For me, and for everyone in New York City, and for the world, the day of September 11 stands out from the rest of the year.
And each year, I remember how back in 2001, just a month after the terrible events had occurred, I was doing research for my biography of Winston Churchill, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, and was reading some speeches Churchill gave during the early years of the war.
And I noticed that it was on September 11, 1940, that Churchill gave one of his most memorable broadcasts — about the “Blitz,” the brutal nightly bombing of London.
Churchill’s words seemed to have been written for our own circumstances.
These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of London are, of course, a part of Hitler’s invasion plans. He hopes, by killing large numbers of civilians, and women and children, that he will terrorise and cow the people of this mighty imperial city, and make them a burden and anxiety to the Government…Little does he know the spirit of the British nation, or the tough fibre of the Londoners…who have been bred to value freedom far above their lives. This wicked man, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatreds, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shame, has now resolved to try to break our famous Island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction. What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts, here and all over the world, which will glow long after all traces of the conflagration he has caused in London have been removed.
One of the most striking things about New York City in the period after the attack on the World Trade Center was that, despite the shock and devastation, there was a tremendous mood of morale, determination, and fellow feeling.
If you want to listen to Churchill give his broadcast, you can listen here. The section I quote above begins at 7:43.
For me, the anniversary of September 11 also reminds me to reflect on the values of the United States, and to challenge myself to live up to those values in my own life.