Dear Friends of Home Base,
We are living in an era we know will someday be spelled out and dissected in the pages of history books by those afforded the privilege of hindsight. As I reflect upon the events that transpired 19 years ago and the unprecedented times we are currently navigating, it is evident that tragedies and pandemics have a unique way of defining and splitting time into two sides: the before and the after, the pre and the post, the then and the now.
An entire generation has come of age since we entered the “post 9/11” era, and yet for many of us, memories from this day and those that followed remain as potent as ever. We remember the dusty streets, the abandoned cars, the smoke and flames. We remember watching the news with rapt attention. We remember grieving. Some of us remember raising our hand to defend freedoms that suddenly felt profoundly vulnerable. We remember hoping, and praying, and wishing.
The times we live in now sometimes feel akin to those early days after 9/11—life as we knew it has been swiftly rendered obsolete, and yet we must find a way to continue our lives the best we can while the dust settles.
In many ways, I believe our nation is at its greatest on those days we know will live in infamy even before time has fully unfolded beneath our feet. We are a nation defined by our struggles and losses as much as we are by our triumphs. When I think of what it means to be an American, I think of Washington crossing the Delaware, the Marines holding the flag atop Mount Suribachi, and the first footsteps on the moon. But mostly, I think of a flag rising out of the ashes of the World Trade Center—tattered, but unsullied by the fire and rubble—rising high above the destruction and loss.
At our core, we are equal parts grit and grace. I believe our nation possesses an innate ability to come together when it counts—despite our differences, despite the odds—to defeat any enemy which seeks to defeat us. At a time of canceled plans and life altered, it seems fitting that the tribute lights will still shine out in New York City as a beacon of hope and remembrance offered to all of us at a time when we may need it more than ever.
As we hold moments of silence and remembrance to commemorate the victims, first responders, military, and families impacted by 9/11, I hope we will also come together to fight this virus and support the frontline healthcare workers and first responders just as we do our Veterans. For even in the most difficult of times, we must still light the tribute lights, we must still Run to Home Base, and we must continue our noble mission—somehow, some way.
And we must Never Forget.
Brigadier General (Ret) Jack Hammond
Executive Director, Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program