To discuss the heroes of 9/11 is a complex issue. Those who worked towards providing relief were heroes to those who were in need. Those who sacrificed from within the twin towers were heroes to the security they protected. The men who were responsible for orchestrating and carrying out the fall of the twin towers were heroes to their own cause. To be a hero is a completely subjective topic. Anyone could be a hero given the right circumstances and the right audience. To be a hero, one simply must do something that is important, even if it’s only important to oneself.
The firefighters who attempted to silence the flames of the twin towers are often heralded as the greatest heroes of the tragedy. With their record response time and the countless firemen who lost their lives, they are often glorified as the real heroes of that fateful day. With many of the firemen carrying the effects of the tragedy in their lungs for years to come, many firemen suffered greatly to provide aid to those who were trapped inside of those burning buildings. Yet they were simply performing the tasks assigned to them by their particular career field. To be heralded as heroes for performing one’s duties would place the title of hero onto all of the people who were simply doing their jobs during a great catastrophe.
These heroes can include the government for providing aid to those who were most in need, and orchestrating as swift and efficient of a rebuilding process as they could manage. This includes the reporters who stayed up for countless hours to report on the damage that continued on throughout the night. This includes those who brought food and supplies for those who had been either in the building, or had been aiding those who had been suffering. The heroes of 9/11 can even include the diners around the company who continued to feed customers as they displayed the footage of the tragedy on their overhanging televisions.
Perhaps the greatest hero of that day is simply the everyday people of America. The ones who sat in those diners waiting for any news on the events unfolding, learning as much as they could to properly react and act. Those who called loved ones to make sure that they were still safe were heroes to the people who knew they were loved. The mothers who held their children tightly after hearing the news, afraid that they would lose them if they didn’t let them go, were heroes to their children. Those who continued to do their jobs throughout the events, teaching and bringing comfort to others, were heroes to every person who received their aid.
To name every hero of September 11th, 2001 would be an impossible task. While we erect memorials and museums to the most obvious heroes of the day, we often forget about all of the small yet crucial people who became heroes through their own actions in helping others. We forget that one simple gesture of kindness can be the most crucial to one who is in need of this.
It does not require superpowers or thousands of dollars to contribute to aid. It can be as simple as giving a hug to a person who could really use a gesture of love. To continue to live after an ordeal is a commendable accomplishment, and it’s one that not everyone can manage. To live well and to rebuild, is a feat of courage that often receives no praise.
Though this country will never be the same after the events of 9/11, the fact that we continue to smile and live fulfilling lives in a world that is built on fear is a pretty incredible task. For simply continuing to live and to find meaning in this world is to be a hero.