Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lest We Forget…

Today is the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on my country. It’s a day I will never forget. So in memory of that tragic day and in honor of the country that I love, I wanted to post a little something.

Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

Generations before always talk about “Where were you when JFK was shot?” Well, the defining political moment of this generation is September 11, 2001. Each person’s memory of this is very personal and very powerful.

I was a sophomore in college in Rocks Springs, Wyoming. Justin had left for work that morning, and I was still in bed. Our radio alarm clock went off and the station was airing a news report about an airplane crashing into a building in New York. I wanted to listen to the report but just that second the phone began to ring, so I jumped out of bed, turned the radio off, and answered the phone. It was Justin telling me the exact same news. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Some teachers canceled classes. I believe my first class was canceled, or maybe I just skipped it. The college had set up a lecture room with a large projection screen and speakers to air the news. Teachers and students alike sat in there all day to watch what was going on. I sat in there with Justin watching the footage over and over again. I cried. Justin said, “It’s Bin Laden who did this.” I had never heard that name before that day. He suspected Bin Laden before the government issued that same suspicion. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even know what the Twin Towers were before that day.

Like everyone else, I spent a lot of time looking at the clear blue sky, worried I might see more planes. We didn’t have cable, so that evening, I just sat on the carpet in the living room listening to the radio. I felt a connection to another generation—a generation who sat around the radio listening to Roosevelt’s fireside chats and tuning in for news on the war. I called my family. I held my husband. And the country cried.

Later that week we both donated blood, and we bought a flag. And that was how I experienced Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

I can’t say what the terrorists were hoping their attacks would do. Were they successful? I can’t really say since I don’t know their intentions and hopes. Maybe they thought they were that day. But seven years later, the good ol’ U.S. of A. is still standing strong and proud, and we’ve all progressed in our lives, so I have to say that the attacks failed. I can never be glad the attack happened, but in honor of the men and women who died that day—the flight crew, the office workers, the plane passengers, government employees, police officers, firemen—and those who have died since protecting our freedom, I would like to post a few good things, that the attacks made me realize and be grateful for.

I still cry when I see the footage of the attacks. I cry when I sing the national anthem. I cry when pledge the flag. I cry when I see a soldier in uniform. And not only do I cry, but my heart swells with love and pride to the point it hurts.

I grew up a little that day. I realized that there are things worth fighting for. Things worth dying for. I got angry and I’m glad I did. It’s a lesson I won’t ever forget and I am proud for those individuals who actually go out and fight and die for me. I especially want to honor and thank my family members who have served in the United States Armed Forces and been willing to give their lives to serve and protect: My Dad, my brothers Dave and Brad, my uncles Wayne, Ray, Clyde, and Steve, my cousins Lachlan, Jericho, David (and his wife Heather), and Joshua, and my grandfather Hays, and my great-grandfather Swift (I could name more if I went back further, but four generations is enough for now).
Thank you.

Our Government
There are plenty of faults I can find wrong with the government. There are plenty of politicians that I’d like to lampoon. But at the end of the day, I live in a country where the government functions. Where people a whole lot smarter than me, who know a whole lot more than me are able to take action to protect the citizens or come our rescue. That day was a scary day for everyone. I don’t like to think about how much worse it would’ve been—or would be today—if we didn’t have a strong, solid country with a functioning government system doing its job.

In the wake of the attack, we knew who are friends were. People were instantly bonded, united with each other. We smiled at strangers, prayed together as a nation. We loved more deeply, more poignantly. Other nations—even those we don’t see eye to eye with on foreign policy—offered their sympathy and help. More than anything that day, we knew we were not alone.

Seven years has not healed the scars from that day. It has not erased our memories. Instead, it has made each citizen stronger as we have all pieced together our lives and built them up again. We can’t forget—we won’t forget. But America did not crumble. The economy did not fail. We may have lost a bit of our innocence, but we gained strength and we are still here!

Here is the opening monologue from the movie Love Actually that I’ve always loved. To me, it really sums up what this life is all about.

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport. General opinion makes out that we live in a world of hatred and greed. I don't see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it's always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge, they were all messages of love. lf you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.

I invite anyone to leave a comment on my blog about what they were doing September 11, 2001. Here is a post my sister Julie did of what she was doing on that day. It's very interesting because she was a missionary another country, so she had a unique experience being outside of America's borders when we were attacked.

Just remember, Our unity is our greatest defense and most lethal weapon.

Long live freedom and God bless America!


Liz Smith said...

thank you for your post...i appreciated you taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings with everyone. God Bless America. :) Jared was also on his mission in venezuela when it happened and it is interesting to hear his experience as well.

Maria said...

I love your post, you have such a way with words. I too was in bed, Mx was off to school (I had taken that semester off) and when I got up I had an urge to turn on the radio before I showered (something I hadn't done in years) and that is when I heard the news. I felt like a plane had hit me in the heart!!! I collapsed on the floor and bawled! I thought they were going to take my husband of 3 weeks and make him go to war!!! I was afraid for my brothers and friends. I never actually saw footage until weeks later (we didn't have a TV and I wasn't up on campus) I saw pictures but by the time I actually got to watch it it was when they had decided it was glorifying the terrorists to show it. It's amazing how much our lives have been effected since that day. Anyone who says different just needs to step foot in an airport! My favorite outcome of that tragic day is how the nation became a God Loving Nation again. Even if for a short time. There was no separation of church and state, prayers were offered in congress, schools, everywhere, and for a short while everyone turned to God again. You're right, those terrorists didn't destroy us, they made us stronger!

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