Where were you when you found out? This week, staff at NNJLS reflected on the 20th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks. 3,000 people were killed that day, including 749 New Jerseyans. Many of us at NNJLS witnessed the events unfold firsthand and 20 years later none of us have forgotten both the visceral pain and the epic heroism that took place across the river in New York City, in our New Jersey towns and throughout the country. The painful legacy of these events and how they’ve shaped the world are evident every day to NNJLS clients, our staff and our communities.
This is a time of deep emotion, reflection and history. We can, should and will remember, but we also need to respond. This 20th anniversary is a chance to recapture the spirit of unity that swept across the nation. In the immediate wake of 9/11, our staff worked with city, state and federal officials, continuing to serve our clients and coming together to help rebuild our corner of the world. September 11th reinforced what we in legal services already knew; we don’t all experience moments of crisis equally. Depending on class, immigration status, religion, citizenship or ethnic background, Black and brown communities globally were impacted at different scales and magnitudes. Our collective fear was weaponized by politicians and individuals with an agenda to justify doing things that were indefensible in any circumstance. By working to ensure equal justice for all, not only a few, NNJLS honors all the lives destroyed by hate violence and state violence over the last two decades.
Our purpose and mission as legal advocates take on new meaning as we remember the selfless acts shown by so many during the attacks and in the hours, days, and years after. It’s an honor to serve and do what we do. #neverforget