On September 11th I celebrate my grandmother’s birthday, as does the rest of my family. She had nothing but unconditional love and patience for her grandkids, as well as a jar full of Butterfinger’s, and a willingness to stay up until the wee hours of the night watching wrestling and playing poker for pennies with her squirmy grandkids. She had an easy laugh, great sense of humor that she used sparingly, a blind dog named Radar, and a respect (but absolutely no fear) of hurricanes. I couldn’t convince her to leave town during Hurricane Ike. “Don’t you worry about old grandma,” she told me. “I might get sucked out a window, but whatever will be will be.”
She was the best, and her birth, September 11 of all days, reminds me how to live.
September 11th broke her heart. Ever a patriot, the wife of a WWII veteran, she chose to honor the national tragedy and celebrate her birthday earlier in the week for the rest of her life. It was the sort of thing she always chose to do: to put the needs of others before herself, whether it was her grandson’s interest in wrestling and candy or her nation’s need to honor the fallen.
May our national tragedy and the memory of our loved ones inspire us to love our families, our neighbors, and our enemies. This is the best defense of freedom: to use it, to shun self-interest and strive to love others in the way that we love ourselves. It is a high calling, a duty to God, a respect for country, and a reflection of the best of what we have lost.
But it’s not about loss. It’s about rebuilding. Whatever was broken, let’s rebuild it in the image of all the soldiers that bought freedom abroad and at home, and in the image of the upright grandparents who shower their grandkids with candy, poker, faith, hope, and love.