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Letter: Pope at WTC shows love will prevail

Pope Francis prays at the artwork "Trying to

Pope Francis prays at the artwork "Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning" by Spencer Finch during his visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan on Sept. 25, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Susan Watts

Pope Francis' visit to the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum is a symbol of how the forces of good will ultimately triumph over evil ["Francis makes history," News, Sept. 25]. His presence at that most sacred and hallowed ground serves as a beacon of hope and reminds us that love shall prevail.

My students sometimes challenge the notion that, as Winston Churchill said, the past should give us hope. My response comes down to numbers: 343, 37, and 23. Of the victims at the World Trade Center, 343 were city firefighters, 37 Port Authority police and 23 New York City police. There were as many as 18,800 people in the World Trade Center complex that day, and nearly 3,000 lost their lives.

All of this demonstrates that the majority of people who could be saved were successfully evacuated due to the efforts and sacrifices of the first responders, as well as countless individuals who stayed back to assist others.

When we look at Sept. 11, we can choose to see how 19 individuals motivated by hatred decided to end their lives so that they could take the lives of others. We should acknowledge such evil, but there is another side to the story. On that day there were at least 403 people that ran into those buildings and gave their lives so that others could live.

The passengers of United Flight 93 had the courage to take the plane and crash it in a field so that it would never reach its final target. It's also important to remember the lives lost at the Pentagon and the efforts of the first responders there. I choose to focus on that in the end.

As the number of Americans with no memory of Sept. 11 continues to grow, we owe it to ourselves to ensure that the lessons from that day are passed on.

Darryl St. George, Centerport

Editor's note: The writer is a history teacher at Northport High School.