Each year, I offer a special tribute on 9-11, especially in memory of the friends who lost their lives on that horrific day. This year, I've sat at my computer probably twenty times, and the words just aren't coming. I think that's because I "get it" now, a little more than I did in years past. I've always known that life is fragile, but now I'm reminded of that a little more each time I just try to breathe -- that simple act that we all take for granted until it becomes, at best, weird, and, at worst, a struggle. I have friends with their breathing constrained like mine because of crippling anxiety from the 9-11 attacks -- these friends lived, but they saw too much. I feel for them, I really do.
At the same time as I am struggling with my present weakness, I find myself strengthened by some great people around me and by a whole lot of hope in general, not only for my own health, but also for the health of our nation. This is my 9-11 thought for 2009: what does the health of the nation mean? Are we in a better place than we were in 2001? When our forefathers wrote the Preamble to our Constitution, they captured this sentiment of health. Here, read it:
Reflecting on the time passed since 9-11 changed the way we live, it is clear that we are pursuing justice and providing for our defense. But what about the rest of those things? We do not have domestic tranquility; we have elected Representatives yelling "You lie!" at the President of the United States. We have "town hall" meetings disrupted by disrespect, and over what? A conversation over "our general welfare?" There are millions of Americans who do not enjoy the "blessings of liberty" because, in this land of extreme prosperity and extreme poverty, they die because they can't access the same doctors I'm accessing to fix my lungs.
Today is the first day that my doctor asked me about my health insurance. Finding it to be a PPO, he said, "Phew, we can pursue whatever options we need to pursue." I asked him, "And if I had something else?" His response was, "Your options might be more limited."
I am 35 years old, and I have outlived some of my friends by eight blessed years. I mean no disrespect when I write that I plan to outlive them by a lot more than that, and, because my lungs are in good hands, I likely will. And with health on my mind, I come back to the Constitution, the blessings promised to all who live in these United States -- promises that our general welfare will be promoted. We need to set aside our differences and make sure that everyone fortunate to be alive today has the chance to be alive tomorrow. All of the nitpicking, all of the partisan bickering, well, that's not a more perfect union, is it? That's a broken one, and that's not the liberty that our heroes have died to protect.
This 9-11, I pray for the souls of my friends, for those they left behind, and for all of the victims of the attacks and the ongoing war on terror. I pray for those guiding our country, that they may find a way to return to our roots to make sure that those most basic needs are met. And yes, I pray that every person living in America will have the same access to life and to the pursuit of happiness that I enjoy, courtesy of some great doctors and quality healthcare. We can argue over the semantics, or we can just do it. I pray that by the next 9-11, it's done.