Yesterday was a very important day for most Americans as it marked the ten-year anniversary of the attacks on 9/11/2001. Not since the Japanese bombing at Pearl Harbor had the U.S. been attacked on our own soil, and like that cool December morning of 1941, the terrorist attacks that led to the fall of the World Trade Center towers in New York, a burning hole in our Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a charred field in Pennsylvania- all caused by hijacked commercial aircraft containing innocent civilians- that day will truly live in infamy.
Most people I know (not just Americans) can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when the news of the attack hit the airwaves. The footage on TV was played over and over as if on perpetual loop, and the commentators were nearly as speechless as the American people. After the initial attacks, you could see the smoke and fire from the towers curling toward the sky, and thousands of people evacuating the city. And just when America’s collective heart didn’t think it could bear the sight of anymore, the towers shook, and one after the other, fell.
Across the globe people watched, horrified, as footage of the dual collapses were aired and then pulled from public view as the scenes were far more graphic than anyone could imagine. People leaping from upper stories, phone calls to love ones from those trapped in stairwells, and the view of first responders running into falling, fiery wreckage in the hopes of saving just one soul were burned into the mind’s of people around the globe. The immediate aftermath- seeing the survivors walking out of New York City like the living dead, covered from head to toe in soot and debris, desperately trying to get a cell phone signal to call their family to let them know that they had been spared- these images remain in our minds long after the rubble has been cleared and the breath-taking memorial has been erected.
It’s no wonder that this event sparked a dramatic change in the climate of the United States- inspiring a new generation of Americans to chose service over self by committing to tours of duty in our Armed Forces and choosing careers as first responders in police and fire departments all across the nation. This generation is writing their own historical record that speaks of courage and bravery, and those who serve are not alone. Every day Americans have changed the way they display their patriotism- from flying “Old Glory” in a place of honor at their homes and businesses, to standing against radicals to protect the funerals of our brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country- and perhaps most importantly, in showing respect and giving thanks for those who serve our country in any capacity so that we can feel safe from the threats of those who seek to do us harm. We’ve learned from the tragedy of 9/11 that freedom is a precious gift- one that we cannot take for granted. And over the course of the last ten years, we’ve learned that freedom truly isn’t free. We’ve mourned the losses of family and friends- both on the day of the attacks and every day since that we’ve been a nation at war.
What we’ve learned is that remembering isn’t just important- it’s essential! It’s vital to understanding the fabric of America today- one that boasts the new “greatest generation” that continues to go where they are called to liberate people who haven’t been afforded the opportunity to take freedom for granted. These people who leave their families for years at a time, weather conditions that most of us would rather never experience, and fight courageously alongside one another to ensure that tyranny and abuse will never again enslave the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and that terrorists will never again have the opportunity to hurt innocent Americans while they work or sleep. It’s equally as vital that we remember how important our hometown heroes are- the men and women who ensure our safety right here in Everytown, USA. We can’t forget the images of Fire Fighters, EMTs, and Police Officers running into harm’s way when they were called to help us.
If we fail to remember 9/11 we do a disservice to families and friends who have lost their loved ones and have gone on to live their lives with the constant reminder of the real cost of freedom. They can’t forget. That’s why we must always remember.
Monday Morning Perspective
“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.” -Emily Dickinson
“Remembrance and reflection how allied. What thin partitions divides sense from thought.” –Alexander Pope
“Adversity often activates a strength we did not know we had.” -Joan Walsh Anglund
When extremists decided to “strike fear” into the hearts of Americans they failed to learn from history. Just like Japan “awoke a sleeping giant” in the winter of 1941, so the terrorists have awakened the American people and our allies to stamp out their radical threats.
If the aftermath of 9/11 has taught us anything, it’s that wining the war on terror begins at home. So long as men and women of every race, creed, religion, ethnicity, and any other divisive factor can work and live alongside one another in harmony where freedom and democracy reign- the victory will always be ours.
Let’s try to do our part every day- whether we wear a uniform or not.
Here’s to never forgetting. Have a wonderful week!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.