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Many of us can remember exactly where we were on 9/11. Some people were listening on the radio as they drove to their offices, while others watched from their televisions. Educators across the country grappled with the news trying to figure out the best way to support their students. And in New Jersey, we faced the unthinkable reality that some of our loved ones may never come home. Of the 2,977 people who tragically perished, 750 of these were New Jersey residents. We lost friends, family members, acquaintances, and colleagues. Thousands of lives were stolen, and life since then has never been the same.
It's hard to believe that it's already been 19 years. There is no way to erase the unfulfilled dreams and legacies that were lost. A tragedy of this magnitude creates a wound so deep that it leaves an indelible mark on the human conscience. We must never forget the people who died, the heroes who served, and the sacrifices that were made on that fateful day.
After 9/11, our country came together in solidarity to grieve. As we collectively mourned, we found ways to support one another. The outpouring of love and compassion from people in America and worldwide helped us immensely as we began to heal. The best way to honor the victims and the survivors is to make our world a better place. Our ability to empathize with others and choose kindness can have a transformational impact on society; and it is the best way to pay tribute not just on 9/11, but every single day of our lives.
While many lives ended that day, it’s important to remember that many lives also started. On July 30, the district wrote a feature on class of 2020 graduate Robert Moran who was born on 9/11. Moved by the events of that day, he is now attending the College of New Jersey in the hopes of helping others through a career in law enforcement. Like Robert, many of our recent graduates going on to do incredible things in the world were also born in that same year. I believe this is a symbolic reminder that even in the darkness, light will always prevail. The students that we are fortunate to educate every day are a living reminder that human beings are capable of conquering adversity and reshaping the future. Life will always persist.
In remembrance of those we lost, I hope that we can find some way to bring joy to someone’s life today. Maybe it’s calling an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Perhaps it’s writing a nice note to someone who deserves to be recognized. Any act of kindness, whether it be big or small, can speak volumes on such a day as this. It’s my sincerest hope that doing this today will be the first step in learning to do it every day. If there’s any profound lesson we can learn from 9/11, as well as the tumultuous challenges we are currently facing, it is that life is very short. We should choose to live our lives in a way that helps and heals. Choosing kindness changes the world.