H.A.D.L.E.Y. fundraiser moved to Sept. 4 (36442)

Ten years have lapsed since the time that an 11-year-old boy by the name of Travis Boyd stayed with me after his mother went missing following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

For several weeks following the horrific attacks, my daughters, fellow church members and others joined Travis as he searched for his mother and held out hope for her return. I watched how every time the telephone rang, young Travis would jump at the thought that it was her calling to say she was safe and sound.

After what seemed like an eternity, I then saw Travis’ worst fears confirmed-some of his mother’s body parts were discovered in the rubble at ground zero.

It’s hard to comprehend that a decade has passed since the tragic September morning that forever transformed this nation and the world at large. As a native New Yorker, I watched as innocent family members like Travis tried to make sense out of the worst form of cruelty imaginable.

But I also watched as people from all races, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds united afterward as they searched for the missing, lent support to the grieving, thwarted a backlash against Muslims and stood beside one another as they denounced terrorism in all its ugly forms.

When the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon took place, they impacted each and every one of us. It’s important to remember that the terrorists were indiscriminate in their attack, and people from all races died on that solemn day-some who I knew personally.

Oftentimes, when we discuss 9/11, we forget that the enemies of this country see us as one, even more than we see ourselves as one. People in the African-American community and other marginalized groups may sometimes think we don’t have a stake in this nation, but we do. If we can all die together, then surely we can learn to live together.

About a month and a half after 9/11, I traveled to Israel and met with Shimon Peres and others within the Israeli government, who also arranged for me to go to Gaza and meet with Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian authority as we discussed a renewed commitment to fighting terrorism. As nations that often deal with terrorist attacks themselves, both Israel and Palestine understood the need to support the United States as we grappled with our own enormous tragedy. We all agreed that the taking of innocent lives must be denounced wherever and whenever it occurs.

Travis is now a young man. In the 10 years since he lost his mother to an incomprehensible evil, the dynamics of the world have changed. In the United States, we came together in the aftermath of 9/11 in such a manner that whether you were a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or whatever, it did not matter, for we all make up America. We all felt the pain of that day, and we all dedicated our time and effort to support the suffering. And it is in that spirit that we must continue to fight against terrorism, unite in progress for all and become engaged in the process.

On Sept. 11, 2001, all colors and creeds died and everyone came together afterward to renew this nation’s resolve. We must find that strength and unity once again so that we can learn to live together on an equal playing field as one. In the memory of all those we’ve lost, let us find a way to honor them by learning more about our neighbors, finding commonality with those different from us and realizing that everyone must stand with thy neighbor to prevent another calamity from befalling the innocent.

We all have a stake in our future; it’s time to start behaving as if we do.