11 September 2009

Remembering 11 September 2001

It was a day that had begun the same as many others had before. I woke up, I brushed my teeth, rode to school with my friends, and arrived to class right before the second bell, preventing a tardy. School had been open for barely a month, and I was a Senior at the local high school. It was a time of celebrating, worrying about what college I was going to get into and whether I would make Valedictorian. When I walked into Physics that day, worried about whether our first test would be hard, I had no idea that my entire world as I knew it would be forever changed.

After our morning announcements, Pledge of Allegiance, and moment of silence, we had just started to settle down for the daily grind. Then someone rushed in and said, "Someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center in New York City." I remember thinking, "What? How could that happen? There must have been something wrong with that plane, or the pilot or something." Shortly thereafter, we heard that a second plane had hit the second tower.

Immediately, the television in the room went on and we saw it. Two billowing, smokey remnants of what, only moments before, had been planes could be seen on both towers. When, shortly thereafter, the towers began to collapse--first one, then the other--something hit me, and I knew from then on that I would be different, though I wasn't sure how.

I and the rest of the school continued on in a fog, as, I'm sure, did most of the country. No class work was done that day, but the televisions were on and we watched for the remainder of the day. We prayed for those in New York City, for their friends and their families, and the country, and later for the forgiveness of those who perpetrated such crimes against the innocent. We banded together, and for a short moment, we were united as a school, a country, a family. We watched as people lined up to donate blood and help in any way they could.

My whole little world ceased to be about me and my family and the petty little things that didn't matter: the way people dressed, what people looked like, the colour of their skin, what car they drove. I ceased to function on selfish principles. In other words, I grew up. In the blink of an eye, I was able to look outside myself and see that the world is so much bigger than I. I was able to think outside of myself to the greater needs of my country. From watching those people who lined up to help in any way possible, I saw the country as a whole go through the same thing I had. We put aside our differences and united as a people of the United States of America.

As we put aside our differences of opinion, beliefs, and politics to band together as one nation, we showed the world what the people of the United States truly are. We are a people of all faiths and beliefs, of all colours and shapes, of all political ideologies, but we are also a people of compassion, integrity, and generosity. When times get tough, when our freedom is threatened, we can come together in such a way that those who hate us tremble in fear and remember why we are the greatest country in the world. The reason for our resilience is the same ideal that makes us unique: freedom. Freedom from tyranny, and freedom from fear.

We aren't perfect, and we often walk fine lines where freedom is concerned. Having freedom makes us all the more responsible to protect it where and when it is threatened. We have a responsibility to ensure that our freedoms are not infringed upon by our government. We have a responsibility to have an opinion, to defy apathy, and to take a stand for what we believe is right.

That is why we need to be in the know on what our government is doing and take action when we feel they are no longer working for the people. For a government established for the people and by the people that no longer works for freedom no longer works for the people of the United States.

It's time to say enough is enough. It's time to remember 11 September 2001 and all those who fell either working hard to earn a living for their families, saving lives, or merely walking by as innocent bystanders minding their own business. Most of all, it's a time to remember all the times in history when the people of the United States have shown their character when it has mattered most. Let us look outside of ourselves and remember. Let us show our true character. Let us believe we can make a difference because we can. That is the beauty of the United States.

For those who have fallen on 11 September and in the service of this country:
"Eternal rest grant unto them o, Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May all the souls of the faithful departed in the Mercy of God rest in peace. Amen"

For the families of the fallen and all those who dwell beneath the freedoms of the United States of America:
"May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face to shine upon you. May the Lord look kindly and graciously, and may the Lord give you his peace. Amen"

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