One of the more powerful stories for me involves my grandmother and her sister instantly getting to work on making a scrapbook of Stalin’s life the moment they heard about his death. They hated Stalin. This is a man who killed their father (he owned a small bakery and when Stalin came to power private business was outlawed and private businessmen were sent to their deaths in the gulags), made life unbearable for them as Jews, stripped them of their basic human rights in every possible sense of that word.

But they understood that despite all that they had to survive and honoring the evil man was what they were forced to do. There was no choice, there was no debate. You did it one way and one way only. You were allowed to cry in the streets. You were not allowed to be indifferent or happy about his death. It might lead to your own.

I’m proud and honored to live in a country where our freedom extends to everything including how he handle moments of national tragedy. We don’t force anyone to feel anything they don’t want to, on 9/11 or any other day.