If you have not read Thomas S. Monson's amazing statement to the Washington Post about 9/11, you can read it here. I feel like I'm just elaborating on my specific examples of what he said.
I was thirteen, almost fourteen, on September 11, 2001. I admit my age to state that I am of the generation that was old enough to realize what happened ten years ago but not understand how truly horrific it was, much less why. Why would someone attack the United States? Why would someone use a plane as a weapon? Why would anyone want to kill so many people?
Ten years later, I still can't answer many of these why questions. The thought of justifying murder and attack boggles my mind and conscience. However, I have found some other answers to the real questions that I didn't expect.
-Life is precious and sacred. We never know when it will shift on us. Everyone realized what matters most after 9/11. We can't forget that lesson, even when times are good.
-A personal lesson I have learned is that violence for violence's sake should not be cool or entertaining. Too many people said, "It looked like a movie" on 9/11. A disconnect between reality and fantasy has clouded the horror of violence. I admit to liking some action movies, which seems like the contradiction of the century next to my previous statement. However, I think there is a difference between violence for violence's sake and violence that has an appropriate, meaningful, reasonable purpose. We have to be careful that we do not become desensitized and glorify mutilation of the human body, lest we cheapen the horror of what some people have endured.
-We should never let fear or ignorance prevent us from discovering truth or meeting good people. While we were in Pullman, Washington, we met a Muslim couple who invited us to come to their mosque for a visitor's day. We enthusiastically accepted the invitation and found that while we did not understand the rituals in Arabic, we did not feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or pressured by the people worshiping there. Afterward, they answered our questions and shared their views on modesty (while mine are not as "radical" in appearance, the general premise is exactly the same), health and diet (again, very similar to my beliefs), and other things that amazingly seemed similar to the Judeo-Christian traditions. Most of all, they clarified common myths about their faith--sound familiar? When we moved to College Station, two men from Iraq lived across from us. They wanted to practice their English, so they invited us over for dinner. They were happy to be in the United States, despite the beyond extensive background checks, interviews, and searches they endured. They showed us pictures of their children, told jokes in broken English, and became our friends. Good people come from all walks of life and beliefs. We need to try to treat others with respect and kindness and live the best way we know how.
-Every religion has had people who misuse their faith to justify horrible things. I don't understand how someone can misinterpret religious texts and put words in God's mouth. I will do my personal best to honor my beliefs (God is merciful, yet just. He loves everyone, and so should we) in my interaction with everyone--either in or out of my faith.
The greatest homage we can pay to those who have paid the ultimate price is to rebuild, to change, to live differently--live happier, smarter, more selflessly, braver, better.