It’s September 11th. I feel like I should have something poignant or poetic to say, but I’m not sure that I do.
15 years ago, this day didn’t mean much to most people. For some, it may have been a birthday. For my brother and his wife, their anniversary. But for most people, just a day.
As of 14 years ago, however, it became much more important for most Americans. I have to say “most” because I have actually seen a Facebook post or two that has rather negative things to say about this day. Is this the result of someone who was too young when it happened to really understand or care about it? (It’s hard for me to believe I’m old enough that I remember something that other adults don’t.) Or someone who is still in that mode of trying to look cool to the rest of the world and therefore is beyond caring about what we went through as a country back in 2001?
I have to say I remember it quite clearly. Living in rural Illinois meant that I was very far away from the action physically, but I was certainly involved mentally. I was driving to college that morning, blasting my Red Hot Chili Peppers CD, when I decided to switch over to the radio. I can remember exactly what part of what town I was driving through when I heard the announcement. I can remember the angle of the sun as it glinted off the railroad tracks and made a morning that seemed so clean and precious. I remember the ball of fear that weighed in my stomach and made me consider pulling over instead of driving onward.
We still had our classes that day, but every television in the college was on. The cafeteria, the lounge area, the classrooms. The towers were burning everywhere. My calculus teacher actually had the audacity to turn off the TV and make us do math of all things, but it was a wonderful emotional break.
I suppose this is where the real point of my story is. That day, I felt like I was connected to every other American. I felt that when I walked down the hallway of my community college and made eye contact with a stranger, we were both thinking the same things: how much we loved our country, how blown away we were by the idea that this could happen, wondering what would happen next.
Now it seems that we spend all our time being afraid of each other. Social media declares that ISIS is everywhere and there is no escaping it. There is a fear of anything that isn’t Christian, which I can’t help but shake my head at. (Don’t get me started on whether this country was founded on Christianity or freedom of religion….HINT: It’s freedom of religion.) We make fun of our country and shame our president on a regular basis.
Personally, I liked our attitudes a lot better 14 years ago. Despite political or religious or sexual tendencies, we all live in the same country. We should still be proud of who we are as a whole and the wonderful things we have in America that we wouldn’t have anywhere else. You might not agree with what our president is doing, but he is still our president. You might not think that gay marriage is okay, but it isn’t as though these laws didn’t go through all the necessary channels to come about. You might think that your religion is the only “correct” one, but at least you live in a country where you are allowed to think that and not be forced to think otherwise.
I urge you to use your freedom of speech wisely and to remember that we are all Americans.