I’m sure you’re with me in this – for what has quickly become the past decade I begin to think, on around September 9 or so, of what life was like before 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001 and what life was like after 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001.
For an 18 year old, “before” was carefree. Although I was never really a “kid,” I also didn’t worry about national security or whether the nuclear power plant 25 minutes away from my college campus would be blown up.
“Before” was sleep filled nights, no real knowledge of foreign terrorists hating freedom and everything we stand for, and feeling safe in the friendly skies.
“Before” was the thought that my future children would grow up in a similar fashion to the way I was brought up – playing out in the front yard, traveling to larger cities without a thought of bombings, and no notion of a war coming to my small home town.
Now, all of this has changed. In a world that is constantly evolving, it is a bit naïve to think that life wouldn’t be different. But what September 11, 2001 brought to light was that no ocean could protect us any longer, and there is an enemy that has no fear of death. The goal of that enemy is to seek, kill, and destroy what Providence has afforded us.
From my dorm room I watched as people decided that plunging from a 100 story window was a better fate than burning to death. From our dorm common room friends watched as the towers crumbled and the Pentagon burned. In our college Chapel we learned what was emerging as the heroic tale of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. Instead of allowing another plane to be used as a jet fuel filled air missile, those brave men and women decided to protect their country before themselves.
As the next few days wore on we all saw and felt a sense unity that had been lacking. There were no denominations, religions, races, nor genders. We realized that we were Americans. There was us and there was the enemy.
If the terrorists had truly looked at us – or would look at us today – they would see that we are a nation of resolve. True, we may get into political fights amongst ourselves – but blood is thicker than water. If an enemy thinks for one moment that they can get away with thumping us, they have another thing coming.
We are the beacon of freedom and liberty that the rest of the world longs for. We are the model that those who are repressed look to. We radiate with an unmatched intensity in the darkness that has consumed much of the world.
Former President Bush stood at ground zero mere days after the catastrophe and said, “I hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” True to his word, the enemy has heard and continues to hear us. From the brave men and women who fight in uniform to those that patrol and protect our boarders to civilians remaining vigilant – we learned our lesson. We won’t be caught unaware again.
In memory of those that gave their lives on September 11 and that have given their lives since then in the fight for freedom, may we continue to realize what is most important for the posterity of this nation. Truly may we stand and say with one voice – May God continue to bless America.
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