Growth Thru National Trauma
September 9, 2011
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- As America approaches the 10th Anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, First Army Headquarters paused to pay tribute to the 2,977 victims during a Patriot Day Prayer luncheon here today.
First Army Command Chaplain, Col Robert Meek, discussed four characteristics that he believes survivors can use to move them from "trauma to post traumatic growth."
"The first characteristic I noticed was that of finding a sense of family," said Meek. "Survivors developed a sense of family and that setting allowed them to share their experiences with one another and later, inspiration to rise above personal pain. So when trauma hits, be with others who have shared a like experience for they are more apt to listen as you tell your story."
"Telling your story is a critical part of moving toward growth," continued Meek, and the second shared characteristic. "Talking about a traumatic experience is one of the most effective coping strategies for dealing with your distress."
The third characteristic Meek noticed was that the community embraced the tragedy. Meek related the story of Andrea Garbarini, who lost a husband during the 9/11 attacks. Garbarini noted that with their "public mourning came an overwhelming support from all quarters, including family, friends and strangers from all over the world. It restored our faith in humanity and we wanted to give back."
"You know something spiritual happens when human beings are moved to action when they are touched by the hurt and suffering they witness in the lives of others," continued Meek.
"The final characteristic I noticed was that of transformation," concluded Meek. "I call this the fork in the road or the decision point that gives you the power to move from where you used to be."
On Sept. 11, 2001, two hijacked civilian aircraft crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, followed by one aircraft hitting the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. and a fourth crashed into a southwestern Pennsylvania field after passengers tried to re-take control of the aircraft. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives in this tragedy.
Every American has been affected directly or indirectly since 9/11. It has forever changed our lives and forever embedded Patriot Day as the annual observance to remember those who lost their lives as the results of the attacks.
Over the past decade, more than two million of our troops have served in the war zones. Hundreds of thousands of troops have deployed multiple times. The National Guard and Reserve have completed an unprecedented number of deployments. In addition, there have been thousands of civilian employees and contractors, many from Rock Island Arsenal, whom have deployed to support our troops.
In conclusion Chaplain Meek reiterated "that when the human spirit meets adversity that threatens ones well being, it is possible to grow in the midst of tragedy. During this 10th anniversary let us not reflect not only on the significance of this day and remember and honor those who lost their lives in the service of others, but let us rejoice that the Almighty has put such an resilient spirit within us that allows us to live again."