Today is the six-year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, and I honestly had no idea how best to remember it. I could come up with a sappy poem, I could write tearful rememberances. But my mind honestly draws a blank as to how exactly you can put into words the multitude of feelings surrounding 9-11.
I still remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was a senior in high school, sitting in math class in a seat across the aisle from where I normally sat. I was sitting sideways in it to face my friend Tim, and we chatted as we waited for the teacher to start class. An announcement came on the intercom, telling all faculty to turn on “the news”. We watched in disbelief the horrifying attack, not quite realizing what happened. Tim and I wondered how it was a pilot could fly into a building, never really comprehending exactly what this meant — until the second plane hit. The room went dead silent, and each student suddenly realized that our country was being attacked. The events of the day unfolded, with the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93 and another plane flying into the Pentagon. The next two days were a blur of grief and shock; classes were unofficially cancelled. We spent our time watching news reports, waiting to see any updates. They were days of tears, grief, and hope, all intermingled into one confusing ball of emotions. I cried watching people jump out of burning buildings; cried as I listened to phone calls from passengers on the planes telling husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, that they loved them one last time. My heart swelled with pride watching the heroism and selflessness of the many people who worked hard with no concern for their own safety at Ground Zero to save the lives of others. No one I knew was injured or killed in the attacks, but listening to the stories of countless innocent civilians or quiet heroes connected me to them, and I wept at the loss of those lives. Eventually, it became clear who the culprit was, and the nation was united in what we had to do. At my high school, we tried to pitch in the best way we could — blood drives, donations, etc. Many of my friends joined the military after graduating, wanting to fight back against the terrorists who committed such a heinous act.
In one day, everything changed. And I knew that it would never be the same.
Now, six years later, the nation has seemingly forgotten. We’ve forgotten why we’re fighting, who we’re fighting, and what we’re fighting for. While some of us stand firm behind the daunting task before us, others are more content to sympathize with our enemies. Some of us refuse to submit and refuse to forget, while others want to subject Americans to lives of dhimmitude, blaming the United States for the crime committed against her rather than the bloodthirsty terrorists bent on world domination. Some Americans love and support our courageous men and women in uniform, and others want to cut their funding; attack recruiting offices; spit on them and call them baby-killers; and on and on. Some understand that Al-Qaeda has issued a jihad against us and won’t stop until they’re defeated, while others think diplomacy with alleviate their bloodlust.
Patriotism is denounced by liberals as jingoism. Wanting to close the border is called bigotry. Playing Janeane Garofalo audio books and Christina Aguilera albums for terrorists is considered cruel. And many of us are left wondering how perceptions changed so dramatically in just six short years.
On September 11, 2001, the nation woke up. We understood, for a brief period of time, what it was that we were up against. And now, some of us have fallen back asleep. Some of us have forgotten. Some of us have become complacent. What will it take for the country to remember? What will it take for the country to wake up again?
That’s Lan astaslem, Arabic for I will not submit/surrender. Will you submit? Will you surrender?
They haven’t given up. There’s no question in my mind that if we do, we will see another 9-11 happen. It may not be a problem we have to deal with; it may be one for our children, or our grandchildren. But it will resurface again if we stick our collective head in the sand and hope they go away. We have to be strong. We have to be united.