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September 11, 2014 By Steve Eyre
While looking through a collection for our archive, I came across this magazine commemorating 9.11.2001; the day the Twin Towers in New York fell to a terrorist attack.
Reading this wonderful tome through misty eyes was a lesson in perspective.
If you’re reading this you are probably on worldofsuperheroes.com, a site dedicated to the celebration of superheroes.
The popularity of superheroes is because they appeal to us all on a very fundamental level. We admire them, we aspire to their altruism and their morality.
How much more then, should we admire real heroes?
History is resplendent with acts of heroism, not just during times of conflict, but in everyday life, but there can surely never have been a time when so many heroes gathered together in one place as on that fateful day in 2001. A day that changed the world.
I remember vividly, watching the horror unfold that day and as a regular visitor to New York, before and since, I feel an affinity to the place and the people who live therein.
On the cover of this magazine it says simply,
“The World’s Greatest Superhero Creators Honour the World’s Greatest Heroes.”
And honour them they do; with poignant and often heart breaking images and emotive and inspiring words, they honour, not only the people who died, but those who put their lives at risk without hesitation to help their fellow human beings. Thrust into a situation they could barely understand, they were unflinching and determined to do whatever they could to help, no matter the cost, and for many, the cost was very high. The emergency services, the police, the military, the fire department, medics and hundreds of ordinary people, civilians like you and I, who rallied around that day to help people they hadn’t met, but who they knew needed help.
There are many powerful pages in ‘Heroes’. The Hulk gently cradling a fireman’s helmet. Captain America with his head bowed. Firemen raising the US flag in the rubble.
But the page that will resonate with all superhero fans and good hearted people everywhere is an image of the Avengers holding a candlelight vigil over the firemen battling in the rubble to save the innocent.
The words on the page describe the day more eloquently than I ever could;
“And there came a day, a day unlike any other… When Earth’s mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat.”
These words were originally written about the Avengers, a band of fictional heroes battling fictional foes. But they apply as well to the harrowing events of September 11th 2001, and to the men and women who responded to those events.
The firefighters, police and emergency workers who plunged into danger to aid the trapped and injured. The rescue personnel of other cities, other states, who came without being called – some who drove all night to New York to do what they could. The ordinary citizens who dropped everything to walk to the site and offer their help. So great the turnout that in the end, volunteers were turned away. There were too many – too many men and women lining up to risk their lives to aid their fellow man.
New York Journalist Katie Roiphe may have put it best when she wrote simply,
“We also have men who are willing to die for an idea.”
To those who came, those who helped, those who died trying to save others; we thank you. We honour you. We will never forget your heroism.”
The beautiful irony of that terrible day is that it had the opposite effect to what the perpetrators had hoped.
The people of New York didn’t cower or retreat or capitulate or surrender.
They rose from the carnage, inspired by their heroes, to become stronger, more resilient, more determined.
There is a saying;
“As you sow, so shall you reap.”
Few would argue that the orchestrators of this cowardly act have reaped the whirlwind of the seeds sown on that bright September morning.
There is another saying;
“Never rouse the beast, best let him sleep.”
Evil men roused a mighty righteous beast that day and it devoured them.
There are countless lessons to be learned from that dark day but let me leave you with this thought.
Maybe, just maybe, it showed us that within all good people, there beats the heart of a hero. Thankfully, perhaps, we won’t all get a chance to prove it.
Be good and stay safe!
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