Saturday, September 10, 2011

The day I will always remember

There are days you remember for always and there are days you hope to forget, and sometimes certain days fall into both categories. September 11th of 2001 is a day I will always remember, and sometimes when I find myself thinking about it too hard, I hope in my mind I will forget, but my heart won't let me. Maybe it's better that I don't though, and maybe it's better that we don't. As Americans, there was nothing more terrifying than being attacked on U.S. soil. It was a reminder that we should never take anything in life for granted. It was a wake up call, a cruel one, but a wake up call nonetheless, that anything in life can happen and nothing in life is promised to anyone.

There are good people in our world and there are bad people. It's a fact, and it will always be that way. A lot of good people died on 9/11, people with families, people who were just going to work with the belief that when their day ended, they would return home. Many did not on that day.

Ten years ago, just a week before 9/11 I had started attending college at Northeastern University and I was a Journalism major. There was no tougher time to be a Journalism major than when 9/11 happened. There was no greater challenge, and it is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. For a whole semester at school, it was all we talked about in Journalism classes, and it took a toll on you. I think it took a toll on everyone. I would go home and I would cry because we would watch media coverage over and over again. As Americans, not as Journalism students, we watched other Americans die.

On September 11th, 2001 I was at work and it was a Tuesday. It seemed like every other morning and I was going about my work when the radio program I was listening to interrupted the regular programming to say that a place had flown into the World Trade Center. At first, many of us thought nothing, we thought it was an accident.

I was recently listening to an interview with Matt Lauer from The Today Show in which he said the two scariest moments that day were: number one, when the second plane crashed into the second tower. He said he was sitting next to Katie Couric and they both looked at one another and mouthed the word: "terrorist". He said the second moment was when the first tower just started to crumble, it completely collapsed as if it was a sand castle. He said that at that moment, he knew the other tower would fall. Two buildings that were so symbolic of America and who we were as a nation just fell. The amazing part is when you think about the logistics of it all, these two buildings were supposed to be so strong, and we as a nation were supposed to be so strong.

9/11 tested our strength, it forced us to look at who we were as a people. Maybe thinking that we were this invincible super power was wrong. Thinking about our country now, we are so divided on so many things, and we shouldn't be, we don't have to be. At the end of the day, I think the majority of people have the same goals in regards to America, they want what is best for this nation. There is something to be said for presenting a united front, standing together, and falling together if and when it happens.

So often, we say, it will never happen again, it will never happen to us, and the truth is, there is this fear in the back of my mind that it could happen again. How would we deal with that? Death and in particular, the taking of a human life seems so unthinkable and yet it happens everyday, not on as large a scale or stage as 9/11 but it happens, and somehow we forget.

It was strange how in the weeks following 9/11 American society made almost this silent pact that we were going to be kinder people, nicer, more giving; we weren't going to complain so much, we were going to act more grateful. For a while, people were; I noticed how nice the customers were that came into the retail store that I worked at during that time. I don't know exactly when it was, but slowly things started to go back to how they were before 9/11. Customers were their rude selves again and people complained about standing in a long line at the local coffee shop.

I know that terrorists took lives on 9/11 and I know that was horrible and I know everyone who is a true American believes that. I know all the troops who are fighting for what this country was built on every day believe it. They make the ultimate sacrifice. Keeping that all in mind, we need to remember that just because they took lives, it does not mean we should allow them to take control of us and how we feel. Freedom of the mind is a gift we should all be grateful for, and it should be cherished. When we forget what they did, when we become so desensitized as a people that we don't care how we treat others on a daily basis, then the terrorists in a way have not only taken something else from us, but they are on their way to winning.

The reason we cannot allow them to win is simple, and it has nothing to do with being an American. The reason is because their message is built on hate, and in life, hate may sometimes win the battle but it will never win the war. Courage, honor, love, respect-- they are all so much greater than hate, and if we can teach someone that in our lives, we've succeeded, and if even for a moment I start to forget; I think about 9/11.

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