Members of the Wilton community reflected on three tragedies within the past week — the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the deadly shooting that took nine lives in a Charleston, S.C. church three years ago, and the loss of Nick Madaras to a roadside bomb in Iraq.
There are lessons to be learned from all: finding forgiveness, finding peace, acting out of love, and moving forward to a better tomorrow.
Images of the terrorist attacks 17 years ago still provoke feelings of anger, sadness, and grief. On Tuesday, the nation and our community paid tribute to the legacy of all who died in New York, in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, as well as those who died later from illnesses suffered as a result of their relentless work in searching for survivors and recovering those who were killed.
What we must not do is let hatred for those who carried out these acts and those who supported them consume us. We can work for peace and unity to lift our society to a higher moral plane.
We also learned of our capacity for forgiveness from two people grievously affected by the 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. One was a survivor and one lost her father in the racially motivated crime. Both Polly Sheppard, who was one of three survivors, and Rose Simmons, who lost her father, shared how they came to forgive this unspeakable act, not for the shooter’s sake, but for their own. Carrying hatred was too heavy a burden, they said. Yes, the shooter’s act was evil, but they did not want to sacrifice peace in their lives by allowing it to eat away at them.
They will remember their friends and family with love and will honor their memory.
We need look no further for a remarkable way to honor one’s memory than the net always filled with soccer balls in front of American Legion Post 86 on Old Ridgefield Road. In dealing with the heartbreaking loss of their son, Pfc. Nick Madaras, Bill and Shalini Madaras have perpetuated his memory with the Kick for Nick Foundation. What started as a simple gesture of relief to children in a war-torn country has grown to an international goodwill campaign of inestimable value.
Each of these instances illustrates how we can move forward, not with fear and hatred, but with love, joy and peace in our hearts. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backward or standing still, and there is nothing to be gained from that.