September 11, 2017

May We Never Forget September 11

‘Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land.

I was in third grade on September 11, 2001. It was just an ordinary day at school. Our principal didn’t make any special announcements. No one seemed scared or afraid. No teachers rolled in TV stands. My classmates didn’t murmur the word “terrorist” or “attack.” I don’t even remember the school day.

Even when I walked into my grandma’s house off the bus, no one was in hysterics. She simply said to me that a lot of people died and it was serious. I sort of nodded and went into the sun room for a snack. But I will never forget that moment. I still remember every detail of standing in that doorway, hearing the news, even if I didn’t understand what it meant.

And what it meant was tragedy.

When I finally understood the full story, when I found out it was New York, that my uncle saw smoke billowing out of the first tower and witnessed the second plane crash into the second, it shook me. There were horrible magazines in the dentist office, with pictures of people jumping out of windows. The airports were locked down, and when I flew for the first time, my whole family was extensively searched. I learned new words like “terror,” “Taliban,” and “mass destruction.” The fear was palpable.

But so was the courage. The solidarity. The national pride.

May We Never Forget

I started to sing “I’m Proud to be an American” with particular fervor. I wrote poetry and songs of my own about the star spangled banner, eagles, and the founding fathers. I wrote letters to soldiers.

The story of my patriotism begins with that day. It begins with third grade, with horrifying pictures and TV segments, with the brave men and women who searched the rubble, and with our national unity despite the forces of evil. But it doesn’t end there.

May we never forget the day the world stopped turning. May we never forget, especially in these tumultuous times, that it shouldn’t take terror to unite us. May we never forget what we can achieve when we are united.

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