It was my second week of eight grade. My school had recently installed a television in our classroom. Just before 9 o’clock my teacher got a phone call and the look of horror on her face was forever engrained in my memory. I didn’t understand the essence of the tears swelling in her eyes. As she turned on the local news I saw smoke emitting from a tall building. I had no idea the name of the building. I had become desensitized to such images because of the “special effects” I’d seen in blockbuster movies. I didn’t realize the calamity of the attacks. I didn’t realize the impact these acts of terrorism would have on my life. The impact they would have on the country from that point forward. As I walked back home that afternoon and heard the helicopters and fighter jets zooming above me I became engulfed in a blanket of fear. It was the first time I had ever been afraid in my young life.
In the days after the attacks, I remember the passionate patriotism that emerged within my soul. I bought a t-shirt from Old Navy with an American flag on it to express my solidarity. I had never been more proud to be an American when I saw the resilience emanating from its citizens. To this day I often think about the loss of life and subsequent devastation endured by the victim’s families. Although I couldn’t exactly relate to them, I empathized because of the loss of my father two years prior to the attacks.
Since that day I’ve heard the day often mentioned; especially by some politicians who use it to gain public support. The New York Times today published an op-ed about the author’s belief that President Bush was somehow involved in orchestrating these acts of evil. The notion is even more ridiculous than the “birther conspiracy theory” that questions President Obama’s U.S. citizenship. September 11th shouldn’t be politicized. What I remember are the acts of valor and bravery of Flight 93. The loss of Americans simply going to work or traveling to see their loved ones. What I remember are the valiant men and women who have fought to protect our freedom. Men and women more brave than me. True patriots of this great nation.
On this somber and reflective day, I ask that we remember the sacrifices of our military. The bravery of firemen, police officers and other first responders who went into burning buildings to save others. The valor exhibited on Flight 93. The bravery of our parents who assured us we’d be safe even though nothing was certain at the time. Remember every single soul lost on September 11th. Every single soul lost on the war on terror. That is what we should remember. On this day I hope politicians unite and stop the bombastic rhetoric. We all are Americans. We stand united. Let us remind our enemies that we will always rise as one. Republicans, democrats, liberals, independents and the like. All united upon one creed.
We are proud to be Americans and we will never forget.
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate