There are certain moments in our lives that seem to stand out. One such moment was brought back a few days ago with headlines announcing the death of Osama bin Laden. We were changed forever on that fateful day with the vicious attack on our country. As a nation, we had to come to the realization that we were vulnerable to the destruction and devastation that war brings - in our own back yard.
I was actually in New York City a few days ago for a speaking engagement. My hotel room was right across the street from where those two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers. As I looked out my window, I was overcome with sobering emotions:
Later that day, I watched the replay of President Obama placing the wreath at Ground Zero. I thought of the changes we as a nation have implemented to insure our safety and security. I had also noticed a pear tree in the background. Ten years ago it was 8 feet tall; it now towers at 30 feet, offering her branches as a safe haven for anyone who stands beneath her.
Picture of President Obama with wreath or of him visiting with those there that day
We have all faced certain moments in our lives where choices were forced on us; moments where we have had to accept changes that were unforeseen and unwanted. As I looked at that towering pear tree, I reflected on my own personal growth in the last 10 years.
Had I accepted the change forced upon me the day of my accident? September 11th, 2001 - I had only been paralyzed 6 months at the time. It was a normal morning – getting dressed to begin the day. Slight change - my wife was dressing me, transferring me into my wheelchair, where I would sit for the next several hours, pondering my dismal future.
I don’t even begin to suggest there are comparisons between these two events. However, there is one undisputable similarity: they were both unforeseen changes. After 9-11, our freedom living in the United States could no longer be taken for granted.
The day of my accident forced me to make changes as well. I had to learn how to function as a quadriplegic; as a father, husband, and provider in a wheelchair. I had to accept what had happened and make necessary changes to insure health and happiness for those that I love and that love me.
That is what I try to do each day. I try to make a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of others. My message and my goals are quite simple. I want people to know they can make a difference. Change might be necessary, but change can be a good thing.
I will forever be grateful for those that continue to make the ultimate sacrifice in providing security and safety so that I may live in this great country. For all those that lost their lives that day in the Towers, at the Pentagon, on that fateful Flight 93, the brave and heroic policemen, firemen and volunteers, I thank you for your sacrifice.