It was the “Do you remember where you were when…?” moment of our era. The time before it was when JFK was shot, but that was before I was even a thought. But everyone who was alive, and old enough to be aware of what was happening, remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard about the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11/2001. I remember it quite clearly.
I had just gotten to my 3rd period math class in 7th grade, and I was hardly paying attention. The teacher seemed preoccupied with the television, so the majority of the class was dicking off. Since I was the outcast, I just sat there immersed in my journals and books, ignoring everyone around me. Then I heard gasps throughout the classroom, and finally my ears opened to the few that were also paying attention to the television that my teacher was also watching.
“The tower is collapsing!” someone said in a low rumble, and I looked up just in time to watch the first tower collapse on the TV. It was then I realized why class wasn’t taking place that day.
A nation under attack
Before the end of school that day, it was all the anyone and everyone could talk about. Two planes had been hijacked by suicide bombers and flown directly into the World Trade Centers. Every news station was covering the situation, and each one was the same heart wrenching scenes. Skyscrapers on fire, people screaming in terror, collapsing buildings with people still alive in them, and witnesses giving their testimonies of what they had seen with their own two eyes.
Then more was revealed. The Pentagon had also been attacked, and a plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania was also said to be part of the attack. It was believed that the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 rose up against the suicide bombers, but failed to take control. In the struggle, the plane crashed and all died. That particular plane never reached it’s destination, which was believed to be the White House.
A war was begun. The United States swore they wouldn’t just let this slide by, they would make those responsible pay for what they have done to our country. But why should we? Why should we stand by and let a terrorist nation attack us, kill hundreds, thousands, of our citizens, and not retaliate? We shouldn’t.
I cared less about the war than I did grieve for all those lost. The reports were pouring in of those who were still missing and family members who were terrified for their loved ones. Then, the phone calls that were made in people’s dying moments were released. The calls from those on the hijacked planes, their calls that went unanswered except for a single answering machine. Pleading love and goodbye to those they cared most for in the world, and the pain those who couldn’t reach the phone must have felt knowing it was the last chance they ever had to speak to that person – and they didn’t answer the phone.
That week, all of the United States came together in a way that is all but a memory now. All forms of hate within the country was forgotten. In those days, no one was homophobic, racist, sexist, or anything in the sense because in those days, we were all one. We were one nation, and we were stronger together. We were united in grieving for those lost, and had lost, and united against the common enemy: those who attacked us.
We are forgetting
Every year, we all say the same words. “Never forget: September 11, 2001”. We may not forget the date, or the events that played out, but there is no doubt that we are forgetting.
I asked my nine year old daughter when she came home today what she knew about what today signified. She was clueless. All she was able to tell me was something about remembering the first responders and heroes that had died, but not why. Or how. I had to explain to her, and show her a video the TSA released last year of actual audio from that day. I still choked up a bit when telling her about it, the impact it had on me as an American still like a fresh wound.
With all of the hate in this country, we stand divided over what is usually trivial things. The media finding our weaknesses and hammering down on them, cracking our resolve for peace and ripping us apart from one another through our strong opinions. Making it seem like opinions are bad things to have, and using them to make it seem like if someone disagrees with our opinions, they are wrong in all sense.
Where there was passion when we were united when the towers fell, there is now only discord and chaos as we fight amongst ourselves. Bin Laden may be dead now, but the threat is still out there. Those who did this to us are still active and they are still doing terrible things to everyone in this world. But yet, we only continue to quarrel due to whatever media story is being run that week. All while the bigger picture is being forgotten.
If we really remembered September 11, 2001, we would live like those following days and weeks. We would stay together, united as a nation and not letting the pettiness of difference of opinion get in between us. We are stronger together, and instead of remembering that, we are forgetting.
We are forgetting to remember. Remembering the date is nothing, only when you remember the feeling does it truly matter.
Remember to Love One Another
No matter what you may believe on what happened on September 11, 2001, the fact is still the same that thousands died. Thousands of Americans, including the first responders, died from a terrorist attack.
The conspiracy theories don’t matter, the media stories don’t matter, none of it matters if you don’t stop spreading hate for trivial things. Come together, hold a few moments of silence for those still grieving what they lost that day, and grieve together as a nation over all the things that have changed since that day.
Everything changed after that moment. Everything. And nothing will ever be the same again. So don’t forget. Never forget, always remember, and put your hate aside.
We are stronger together.