Nobody forgets where they were and what they were doing when National Tragedies strike. My mom told us the story of where she was when Kennedy was shot, and she was just a little girl. While the sadness that overwhelms us after events like 9/11 finally lessens with time, the impact they make on our country and our personal lives last forever. And they should. It is a good thing for people to remember, to mourn again for a moment, to rally to a cause. It’s what makes us different from animals. We are human, so we remember …
1. I remember that America became temporarily patriotic again. For that small window of time, politics, religion, race, all that separates us from one another was removed and we loved our country, and we loved each other.
2. I remember that the Pentagon was also hit. (It seemed like New York got so much more press, but I bet the families affected by the Pentagon attack didn’t think it was less important.)
3. I remember the heroes of the day. I love ordinary heroes, and there were a lot that day. Many helping hands pulled people from flames, held doors so people could get out. Went in when everyone else was getting out. People are incredibly brave!
4. I remember “Let’s Roll”. Those courageous men, led by Todd Beamer, who took over Flight 93 when they found out what was happening to the other hijacked planes. They stormed the cockpit, overpowered the terrorists and crashed the plane into a field rather than allow the terrorists to kill more innocent people.
5. I remember the guy in the median. I never knew his name, but there was a guy who spent the days following 9/11 sitting on a folding chair in a median holding a sign that said, “Honk if you love America”.
6. I remember the teenagers on the corner with signs. Our college bus service was taking us to Walmart when we passed a group of teenagers on the corner, holding signs that said “We love America”, “Honk for America”, “Pray for America”. The entire bus spontaneously broke into a chorus of “God Bless America”. We gathered at the windows and sang at the top of our lungs and pounded on the metal roof of the bus, while the kids on the corner hooped and hollered and clapped for our country.
7. I remember that churches were full.
8. I remember that cities were emptied.
9. I remember that George W. Bush continued to read a book to an elementary class, not giving that group of children the burden of adulthood, even though he had just been given the news that America was under attack.
10. I remember that my Dad resolutely refused to stop flying on airplanes, My Mom works for Southwest, and Daddy told anyone who would listen that it was okay to fly. He comforted passengers whose jobs required them to fly, intentionally sitting by those who looked most nervous so that he could speak peace to them during the flight.
11. I remember that many have died defending our country ever since. There has never been a war like the war we have waged these past 13 years. Sometimes I’ve supported it, sometimes I’ve scratched my head at it, but I have always been thankful and supportive of our brave, dedicated troops who risk their lives so we can be free.
“Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew.“ – President George W. Bush, December 11, 2001