Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remember 9/11

Eleven years later and the news stations, local papers and political talking heads are telling its viewers, readers, and listeners that we aren't going to remember or take the time to care what happened on this day. I beg to differ. How could we, as a nation, forget?
Nine-eleven is engraved in my mind. I remember sitting in my sixthth grade class when an announcement came over the loud speaker alerting the teachers of a national emergency and asking them to turn their tvs on. We briefly watched the horror. I don't remember how long we watched or what specific moments I witnessed. But I do remember being in shock that this was happening in our country. That night at home my Mom and I watched the continuous news coverage. Mom ironed in the basement in front of the tv which was something she never did. I had never seen her iron in that room before that day and I've never seen her do it since. It added to the strangeness of that day for me.
I don't know if all kids were affected by that day the way I was. It has always stuck with me. When I see the time 9:11 on the clock my heart skips a beat. I couldn't possibly forget what this day means, what happened, and how many people were robbed of something that day. For some people they lost a person. Thousands died in the horror of falling buildings, crashing planes and attempted rescue missions. The loss of life was devestating and it impacted so many families. Others didn't lose a person but they did lose a sense of security that used to be fundamentally American. When that second plane hit the World Trade Towers the US watched that security go up in smoke. We all lost something that day.
When I opened the newspaper this morning I expected to find an article about the heros of 9/11. I was hoping for a unifying message that reminded this country how it came together in the aftermath of that tragedy. But that wasn't the message. Instead the article focused on how many people wouldn't take time to remember today or do anything special to commemerate the tragedy. Some of the people interviewed for the article sounded disgusted with fellow Americans for their lack of somberness on this day. The heart of the message wasn't unifying at all. Instead, it focused on the disparity of the American people.  A division between those who honor the day and those who ignore it.
I can't help but wonder if the article got the whole story right. Are we really that blind to the past? The author sites studies showing shockingly low percentages of Americans even reflect on the events of this day 11 years ago. I doubt the numbers are as low as they claim. That day shook this country to its core. No matter where you lived or who you were you watched what happened. It didn't matter if you knew someone in the towers or had never even seen the city before, your heart broke for the loss of life and devestation. Everyone was united in something: grief.
Now, 11 years later, the horror of that day is no less striking. What shakes me now is how far from that day we have come and how much we have forgotten about the unity that followed the attack. We were a country standing together against evil and injustice. We stood for something bigger then ourselves - no matter what our political party or beliefs. We were gripped by something bigger than politics.
Today we are in the midst of a heated election that could very well define the future of this country. The attacks now aren't from the outside; they are party against party, American against American. The United States of America couldn't be more divided.
America hasn't forgotten 9/11, no matter what the polls say. Those 3 numbers will forever mean something to those that lived through it. What America has forgotten is the lessons we learned that day. We learned that this country can come together and unite for a common purpose. We learned that there are forces outside the US that are against us. We learned that in the midst of terrible circumstances, people can show true compassions, heroism and goodness. We learned that who we are as a nation is not defined by social class, tax bracket or race. We learned that America is great because of the way we can band together, fight for the common good and rise about tragedy and difficulty.
The lessons of 9/11 are as true and relevant today as they were eleven years ago. We must not forget what this country was founded on and what has carried us through the most difficult moments of our nation's history. We haven't come this far by divisive meaures and internal attacks. We have become great because of the moments when we came together as a nation, pulled our selves up by our boot straps, and pushed toward the common good. It all started with our founding fathers who wanted a better nation for themselves and their families. It was once again proven to be the American way in the days of WWII and the unthinkable horrors of Hitler. Then, on 9/11, our generation witnessed American values in action once again. We came together as one. We united because that is who we were founded to be: These United States of America.

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