Our Executive Director’s Sept. 11 Response

Donna Butts

This response was originally published in a 2001 issue of our newsletter, then called Together.

On September 11th, we watched the Pentagon burn from our rooftop at Generations United and joined countless others as we worried about loved ones in New York City.

Whether in person or on TV, we all saw the unimaginable unfold that day and we reached out to hold each other up. What followed were tragic stories, tales of heroes and grateful prayers for those who were safe. For me, I will always be thankful that my dear friend Bobby, who worked on the 82nd floor of the World Trade Center, lingered over coffee that morning with his partner, David. His late arrival means I can still throw my arms around him. Others are not so fortunate.

Generations United stayed open most of September 11th and we all returned on the 12th. We shared a commitment to return quickly to the work of trying to make our little part of the world a better place. There was some gentle kidding that the world office of Generations United would not be shut down by fear…but we said this with pride. We are grateful for our colleagues across the country and from the Netherlands who sent us messages of care and support.

Now, just days after the attack, another evil is growing. For some, anger is turning to hateful acts and words. In ignorance, people are drawing targets based on differences. Whether directed at people with darker skin or those whose sexual orientation may be different than their own, this is wrong. At Generations United we believe discrimination is any form that limits a person’s potential to contribute to the development of their community, their country, and their world. Diversity is what makes America strong and we must continue to embrace those differences.

We will be sorting out the events of September 11th for weeks, months and years to come. One thing is certain. Intergenerational approaches will be even more imperative as we re-weave our communities — shaken by an attack but united in the knowledge of all the good that will continue in our world.