Today marks the 14th year since the tragedy that befell this nation on 9/11. The worst terrorist attack in the history of this country and the entire World. This day stands as a monument to the lives lost, the bravery of the men and women who selflessly risked their lives in order to save others - and arguably, most importantly - lessons that we mustn’t soon forget.

Tragedy has a way of bringing humanity together like few other things can. On this day in 2001, nearly the entire world came together and embraced the United States of America as brothers. From Russia, and China, to Brazil and Egypt - even deep in the sub-Saharan jungles of Central Africa where tribes blessed us and our country in this hour of need. Tragedy brought forth the absolute best in our neighbors to the North, where they arranged to have any international flights directed away from our borders and into Canada. They took in thousands upon thousands of friends, families and weary travelers across a dozen airports in their great nation. Even in the face of such immense devastation, we can still look back on this day and not just think of those lives lost, but also of the deep friendship between neighboring nations and what we mean to each other.

Tragedy has a way of combining both the worst that humanity that has to offer, but also the very best. On this date, 14 years ago, 10 hijackers flew 2 planes into the WTC towers and within minutes we had 470 Firefighters, Police Officers, EMTs and other various law enforcement officers rush to aid those in need; who would never see their friends, families and other loved ones again. Without even a second thought they rushed into those two smoldering towers that two jumbo jets just crashed into. Not even such an epic display of destruction would halt their advance up the skyscraper stairwells to help anyone and everyone in need. When contrasting between the worst that we as a species have to offer versus the best, well, let’s just say I agree with Jon Stewart; “I’ll take those odds every fucking day.” And let us not dare forget those aboard Flight 93 who ultimately sacrificed themselves in an effort to take the plane back when they realized from those they called what this hijacking actually was. You, I, and everyone else can only hope that we would show even an ounce of their courage, bravery and willingness to sacrifice for others if we were ever put in such situations.

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Tragedy has a way of - most heinously - also being abused by those in power. This day will forever be a day of remembrance, of being thankful for those first responders who managed to save as many as they did, and to always be happy that we have such incredible friends and allies. However we cannot let these sad and fuzzy feelings cloud our eyes from what else we need to remind ourselves of on this day. That with great tragedies such as 9/11, there are those that would abuse those actions of the terrorist, and our own memories and fears to get their way. The Patriot Act was passed with nary a debate because we were just attacked, we were scared, and we wanted something done. Even now, we’re only just starting to learn what damage the Patriot Act has done, and continues to do to our civil rights. Other bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA are also the results of politicians, lobbyist and mainstream media groups playing the “terrorism” card in order to scare us into supporting these clearly heinous laws. They do so by evoking our fear, our rage and our desire to never see another 9/11 happen again. They play our own fears and emotions against us in an effort to get what they want, even in spite of the fact that it does nothing to actually aid us.

Do not forget the sacrifices that those brave individuals made to save as many lives as possible. Do not be so overcome with grief as not to celebrate and be merry with those that aided us like never before in our great time of need; and for those loved ones - those family members and friends - who survived this attack... do not ever take their continued existence for granted. But through all these emotions, we still must steel ourselves against those who would take advantage. Do not let these individuals - extremists in their own right - use this event and the memories it evokes to push their own agenda. Do not let them use fear, hyperbole and jingoism as a way to create only more hatred, remove more civil rights, and push our own nation farther down this hole of paranoia. Do not. Do not.

Do not.

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