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Local Voices: Change Made and Lessons Learned Since 9-11

By John L. Horton

September 11 has been a “bittersweet” experience for me. In my 75 plus years, not much has affected me so deeply and personally. September 11, all too poignantly, is once again up us, celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. September 11 has taught me the “lessons of life” that the time has come for all of us to do the right kinds of things for ourselves…and for others. September 11 has taught me about the “uncertainty of life.” I have learned that life should not be taken for granted or wasted away. Moreover, I have learned that life should be lived to the fullest – “carpe diem” all the way.

September 11 has taught me to see the “bigger picture” of life. This “bigger picture” demands that we learn from the tragedy of 9-11 and come up with some lasting solutions for justice…and peace. The aftermath of 9-11 begs of us to come up with some viable answers for our human dilemmas of economic poverty, political inequity and social deprivation. September 11 has taught me to believe, dream and hope – again. Since September 11, I have seen the “proverbial glass” as half full…not half empty. I have seen the positivity and upside of the American Dream. Since 9-11, I have seen most Americans striving for significant means and creating substantive ways to bring about a new social contract for the common good and more perfect union.

September 11 has taught me to do everything that I can to make the Earth a better place for all of its inhabitants. And for all of these reasons, September 11 has been meaningful, insightful, empowering and uplifting for me. September 11, as such, affords us an opportunity to reinvent and improve upon ourselves. It gives us a day…and time for atonement and betterment. Lastly, September 11 is a day of virtue and victory. And, hopefully we will “make the changes” and “learn the lessons” for making the Earth a better place for all of its inhabitants.

AN ODE FOR SEPTEMBER 11/9-11, 2001:

Instead of hate, anger, and frustration
I pray for us to have a better nation.

May all those we have lost gone to heaven
I wish this for all our deceased brethren.

No more envy, rudeness, spitefulness and separation
But a time for love, respect, togetherness and celebration.

No more evil, darkness, insanity and blight
Let us move forward into righteousness and light.

May we all exemplify these lessons of life as never before
And hopefully we learn how to emulate them forever more.

Let us honor always these precious and special few
By our actions and behaviors on a daily basis we do.

It is up to us to be those thousand points of light
To build that shining city on the hill out of the night.

This should be our ongoing challenge and daily test
For we are Americans and we are truly blessed.

Like the Phoenix, let us rise up from the dust
For, if it is to be, then let it be up to us.

Long live the memory and anguish of this fateful day
May we always value and treasure it in a revered way.

John L. Horton is a resident of Norfolk and a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

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