Has my life been worthwhile?

I was in New York City last week to celebrate with a friend who was being honored as Global Citizen of the Year by the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seaton Hall. While there, we toured the 9/11 Memorialwhere the names of everyone who died in the terrorist attacks are inscribed on plaques that surround water falls that replace the World Trade Center towers.

As we walked through the park, contemplating the people and the lives represented by all those names, my friend commented that she wondered whether what she has done with her life and career make a difference.

The list of accomplishments my friend has amassed during her career includes heading major trade associations, serving in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, raising two beautiful children, and counting a host of loyal friends and family. The significance of someone as successful as she asking this question touched me.

As we reach a certain age, it is common to reflect on our lives, to wonder how or even if we’ll be remembered. The 9/11 Memorial prompts such reflection even if it hadn’t crossed your mind before.

On the memorial we find names of firefighters and police officers, average citizens, men, women, children. We see Todd Beamer – the man who famously said “Let’s roll!” as he joined others on Flight 93 to overwhelm the terrorist hijackers. His name is inscribed just below the name of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolasand her unborn child.

People – famous or not; the lives – lived full or not, the Memorial left me knowing each one matters.

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