In just a few hours, it will officially be the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. No year is needed, that date will forever be synonymous with 2001. Ironically, on September 11, 2001, I was in the Boston area. Today I am in Boston. Despite all the time which has past, I still get upset about this day, meaning, I'm filled with sadness and cry. I didn't lose anyone, but it was the first time I had actually felt alone in the world. Perhaps it's because I had a feeling of losing my security. Five years later, are we any safer? Do we feel more secure? I don't. In fact, I'm still nervous when I fly. But that's how terrorism works - keeping us on our edge with anticipation that something may happen. I had no idea how much that horrible day would not only impact me then (I needed to find a way to get home to Florida), or down the road, five years later. I've tried multiple times to cohesively write my thoughts and feelings of Sept. 11, but I can never get them to meld into something that makes sense. Maybe next year.
Today (yesterday), I met an incredible young man named Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children. He's 23 now, but at the age of 12, he was so moved by reading a story about a 12-year-old Pakistani killed for telling the world about child slavery, he convinced his parents to take 2 months of from school and backpack through Asia. He formed Free the Children to simply help other children in developing countries. This guy was amazing. For being 23, he's an incredibly dynamic speaker. He's traveled the globe, returning from Kenya last week. He's a three-time Nobel peace prize nominee and author of a few books. Why couldn't I have met him when I was 12? I was so touched by his presentation, feeling his passion, I had to speak with him. I thanked him and shared my Afghanistan experience. It gave me a little bit more justification about my trip.
Despite my frustrations and problems, I live really well. Each day, I think about the poor living conditions in Afghanistan - lack of electricity, drinkable water, clean clothing, food. All the children I met in orphanages who will probably never be adopted nor have family to share life accomplishments. But I remind myself of the hope over there. The people are free. Not a definition of free by U.S. standards, but they are free. And the people of Afghanistan can thank the U.S. government for their freedom. Without Sept. 11, the Taliban would still be in full control of the country. They remember it, we can't allow ourselves to forget.