One question I am asked again and again when the subject of 9-11 comes up: "What happened to our American spirit, the unity we all felt right after the attacks? Why can't we recapture that?"
In a way, I hope this two hour special edition of Dateline - America Remembers - will inspire everyone to rethink who we are and where we're going. The people I interview - the widows, the survivors, other family members - endured an unimaginable tragedy, and emerged from their grief determined to lead better, more meaningful lives. There was a surprising absence of bitterness on the part of all of them.
Marian Fontana, who lost her firefighter husband David on that day, their 8th wedding anniversary, said the grief remains. She described it as a brick in your pocket you'll always carry with you but, she also said she knew she had to go on. To honor her husband, she wrote a book and participated in political activities organized by the surviving families to correct the terrible shortcomings in our national security and vigilance. She used the proceeds from the compensation she received for David's death to help establish college trust funds for his nieces. Most of all, Marian and the others demonstrated a common commitment to honor their experiences and their losses by going through each day with a fresh appreciation of what matters most - a life lived well, family, memories and second chances.
We can all learn from them.
Tom Brokaw, NBC News correspondent
America Remembers is a special two-hour Dateline report that airs Friday, Sept. 9th, at 9pm/8c.