About a month after the 9/11 attacks, I was able to see first hand the damage done at Ground Zero: the makeshift memorials of those who were never heard from after the event, and the large hole in the ground where the towers used to stand.

Eight months after the attacks in May 2002, I had the opportunity to attend the candlelight vigil of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial . This is an annual event held in Washington, D.C. This particular year highlighted the fallen heroes of the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93, and there was a record number of visitors — standing room only!  It was a very emotional, yet uplifiting, moment for all those present.

More recently, in 2007, I vacationed in New York City and revisited Ground Zero and viewed the 9/11 memorials. At the same visit, I went to the NYPD Museum and experienced the memorial, which included a video tribute, for the officers who responded to the WTC attacks.

Eight years later, each memory or visual of the 9/11 attacks still makes me emotional. I’m sure everyone remembers what they were doing that morning. I remember driving to work (I had a 30 minute commute at the time) and listening to the various radio stations covering the catastrophe. I didn’t see any of the tv footage so I didn’t realize how extensive this was. About 20 minutes into my commute, I get a call from my sister who was in New Jersey on business at the time. She asked me if I had heard the news about the attacks. She then told me that she was supposed to be on Flight 93, which was to arrive in San Francisco.  I believe it was by divine providence that her project was delayed and she had to spend an extra day or two in NJ. It wasn’t until I got into work and saw the news coverage that I realized – had her project been on schedule I might not have seen her again…

I can’t imagine how those who actually lost someone in that catastrophe feel each year at this time. I am remembering today those who lost their lives while going about their normal day, especially those who put their life on the line to save the others. Thank you for your courage and heroism. I continue to pray for the families and friends they leave behind.

No one has greater love than this,

to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:13

It’s during times like these that we should take the time to appreciate our loved ones who are still living, and memorialize those who have gone before us. Regardless of how they passed, they somehow made an impact on our life. This is also a good time to think about the legacy we will leave, whether it’s through an estate, will, foundation, etc. Contact your family attorney or financial advisor to help with your estate planning. Many banks and credit unions also have departments that can help or can refer you to someone. The credit union I belong to holds seminars that educate their customers on estate planning. Your insurance agent can help you get started with a life insurance policy. It’s a very simple way to start that legacy.