“The difference between someone who is scared and someone who is brave is that the brave person is scared, but tries anyway. Bravery cannot exist without fear.”
On September 11, 2001 my wife and I were in the middle of training in Manchester, England. We, and another American in the program, were asked to step outside the room. We were informed that two planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings in an apparent terrorist attack.
They wanted us to know before everyone else because it was our country and home. We stood there in shocked silence for a moment as a few details were given. While we listened to the news, the rest of the students, from all across Britain, Europe, Africa and Canada, were told the same shocking news.
A few, presumably with ties to America through friends and family, came into the hall to support us. I do not remember what words were spoken, but I do remember the tears. So many people, almost three-and-a-half thousand miles away from New York City, were broken. I do not know what thoughts were flowing through their minds. Was it sorrow, fear, anger, bitterness, rage, confusion, compassion?
After a few minutes of simply huddling together, our tears falling to the floor of the hallway, just as debris and humans were falling from the towers, the news came. Another plane had crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane seemed destined for the White House. Fervent prayer ensued. We, as a community of Christians, prayed together in faith that the fourth plane would not make its destination.
We prayed for divine intervention on a human event. Our prayers were already answered in the form of the brave passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. All we found out at the time was that the plane never made it to Washington D.C. Many stories have been told of men and women helping others evacuate. Many tales of people charging into certain death to do everything they could to ensure that others would not. Still, stories will never be told of those who could not escape, but faced death and stared it down.
Those who stayed behind by choice so as not to leave those too beaten, broken, burned, bruised to die alone. Those who stayed behind to help others face fear. People who were brave for those who could not be brave. If I ever need to teach my son the definition of bravery, I need not only look to my country’s men and women who serve in public, military and voluntary roles, but to those who were thrust into service. They are heroes too. Millions were scared that day. Thousands were brave.
————Copyright 2011 Lucas Ellis. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.