There are few events in every generation that everyone remembers. Those moments frozen in your mind, the ones you will remember forever. For our parents, it was the JFK Assassination, for others it was the Challenger Explosion, and for my generation it is September 11th, 2001.
As a child, my biggest fear was that my brother would get drafted into the army and would never return. Anytime there was a rumor or a story of a war around the world, I would get nervous. The day he called me to tell me that he had joined the army is burned into my memory. The day he left for basic training was a miserable day for me. After seeing how God was protecting him and helping him succeed, I began to calm down and realize that the chances were that he’d come home. So the day we dropped him off to report for duty at Ft.Bragg, I didn’t think much of it. That day was September 10th, 2001.
The next morning, I was on my way to 3rd period Bowling Class (gotta love senior electives!), when I heard rumors that something terrible had happened. When I got to the gym, our teacher told us that we wouldn’t be bowling today, but that we needed to see something. He lead us into the Health Classroom and turned on the TV. We saw the first tower in flames, smoke pouring out. Then the 2nd plane hit. I remember staring at my gym shoes sitting on the desk, I couldn’t bring myself to look at the tv, to imagine what it might mean. We stayed in that classroom for the rest of the day, watching, discussing, asking questions, making phone calls, crying, … praying, probably for the first honest time.
The night before, we had dropped my brother off at 11pm, so for the rest of the night and the following morning he sat in an office waiting for his paperwork to be processed. He knew nothing of the tragedy that was unfolding. About 9am, when one of the officers came into the room, all he said was, “Welcome to the 82nd son, we’re going to war.”
Our world has changed greatly since that day. My brother has been deployed twice, to two different countries, and has come home. It hasn’t been easy for him, he’s suffered a lot. I’ve never been so proud of someone in my whole life. I’ve never been so proud of my country. We witnessed a great tragedy that day. We must never forget. We must never forget the men and women who have faithfully served to keep another attack from happening; the men and women who have worked, trained, sweat, and bled to serve those in other countries who could not serve themselves. We must not forget to thank them, to love them, to honor them.
We must also never forget September 12th, 2001. The day that our eyes were opened, our hearts were softened, and our hands reached out. While the 11th was a tragic day that can’t be forgotten, the 12th represents a way of life that should remain. On the 12th, as the smoke begin to clear, we begin to see our neighbors as friends, our fellow countrymen as family no matter how far away they lived. We were AMERICANS that day.
WE CAN NEVER FORGET.