After September 11, 2001, many of us were feeling confused about what we felt after such an atrocity. I did what I usually do in that case, and I wrote about it (of course then I had no outlet to share it with anyone, so I never really did). I felt after all these years had passed it might be interesting to see what was going on in our minds at that time and see if we really are remembering.
There are so many people affected by the tragedies that occurred on September 11. In one way or another, we are all affected by them, as we should be as decent human beings, and as Americans. Our country will never be the same again. These horrific acts of terrorism rocked our sense of security in this country, and put us in fear, just as the terrorists had hoped. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give in to their desires. We are a strong country, with a strong history, and American pride.
I consider myself fortunate in that when I was growing up, my parents felt it was important to instill in me a love for this country. I can remember asking my mom what made the United States such a wonderful place. She replied, “Because we have freedom in this country.” Freedom. This word did not take shape in my mind until I was older, but I always knew it was important and that it made this country special. Then when I went to school, I learned about all the people all over the world who had risked everything they had in order to come to the United States of America, in order to live in a country that offered them freedom… And I learned of the men and women who have fought for over 200 years now to gain and to preserve this freedom.
It is the hatred of this freedom that brought this dreadful assault on our country, and cost the lives of possibly thousands of innocent citizens. It is no accident that the worst of the attacks took place in the city that has long been the symbol of our freedom, and of hope.
I can remember when I was in elementary school, putting my hand over my heart, looking up towards our classroom’s flag, and saying “The Pledge of Allegiance” before sitting down for our daily lessons. I also remember learning and singing “America the Beautiful.” It was a privilege to be one of the students chosen to put up the flag in the morning. We were proud. The last time I saw American pride like that was during Desert Storm…until now. We are proud again. We sing “America the Beautiful” again… and we look towards our flag again with a proud intensity this country has probably not seen since the strikes on Pearl Harbor.
It is a shame that it took such a tragic event for this country to put up the flags again and come together. But we have. We truly are the United States. A renewed fire burns in each of us as we watch the heroes in New York City banding together, sacrificing their time, their sleep, and their lives, in hopes of saving even a single person from the devastation that was the World Trade Center. The fire continues to burn as we watch the sickening celebrations in some Middle East countries, where children dance in the streets, and others pass out candy, being taught to hate already. And the fire grows even stronger as we listen to our president tell us that the state of the union is strong, and that justice will be done.
Now we need to take a stand and support our country and our nation’s leaders as we seek retribution for the attack on our freedom. We are a changed country, and we can’t go back now. We should never go back to the complacent lives we lived before. We must keep the flags waving, and remember why we’ve come together now… to protect and defend our freedom. This truly is a great nation, and we need to believe in this, not just now, while the events are fresh in our minds and hearts, but also through the coming events, whatever they may be… and forever. We need to pray, and continue to pray, not just for the missing, or the families of the missing and the dead, but for our country as a whole, and our leaders… and the men and women who will fight for justice in faraway lands.
I thank God every day that none of my loved ones were lost. This does not mean I am immune to the feelings of loss as I see and read about stories of everyday people who were senselessly murdered in this catastrophe. I feel as if I know these people, and I grieve with their families, co-workers, and friends. There was a young woman who came into my store the other day with her small son. She was looking for anything she could find that was patriotic. “His grandfather died at the Pentagon, and his father is in the Navy, helping with recovery efforts,” she told me. Then she said something that rings true to me. She told me there is nobody in this country who is not somehow touched by this. She was right.
A new feeling now settles in on me. I’ve always been interested in the history of wars in which the United States was involved. I’ve studied books, watched movies and documentaries, and visited museums. This one will be different. For the first time, I’m old enough to really understand the situation, and I’m old enough that I know some of those men and women being deployed now to fight are my friends and former classmates. This will be more personal. I stand behind the fight and these men and women, and I pray that the Lord will bring them back quickly and safely to their homeland…the land of freedom.
God Bless America!
There was no Youtube when this happened, but images were online, videos circulated, and we all shared the tragedy through these. Now Youtube has several videos in remembrance, but I just picked one, because many of the images are the ones I remember from that time, and the song that felt like the backdrop to everything for a time was “God Bless the USA.”
On the day of September 11, 2001, Robert and I had the day off together. I got up and turned on Today. Being a bit groggy, I thought the images I was seeing live of the Trade Center were scenes from an upcoming action movie. When I realized they were not, I went to wake up Robert. I told him he had to get up because somebody was bombing New York. We spent that day in a daze, not knowing what to do or how to react. We could not stop watching the news.
Finally we decided to go out of the apartment and headed to the mall where I worked. It was quiet and shops were starting to close down. We went to see my coworkers for a bit; they too had been given the go ahead to shut down. Nobody was out shopping that day. As we headed towards the mall exit the song playing was Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Oh, the irony and eerieness of hearing that song in that moment. And yet, how hopeful it was to hear it.