Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years...

Ten years ago, I was a junior in high school. I was wrapped up in my boyfriend, volleyball, and drama, and I was completely unconcerned with most things that didn't revolve around me.  

Like every other American who experienced that day, I vividly remember where I was when I first heard that a plane had crashed into the first tower.  I was at school--first period Theater Arts with Mrs. Martinez--sitting in my desk, laughing with friends and talking about our upcoming volleyball game. 

And I'll tell you something I've probably never told anyone before.  

My first thought had nothing to do with the safety of the people on the plane or in the building or the ramifications of such an "accident" (as I believed it to be at the time).  My very first thought was, "I wonder if I'll still get to play in my volleyball game tonight."  

That moment is probably one of the most shameful moments of my life.  I think that, for some reason, I just didn't understand the enormity of the situation at first. As soon as I was able to get to a television and see those horrible images that still haunt me to this day, I began to understand the gravity of those unspeakable acts and immediately started praying for New York, our country, and President Bush.  

But my initial selfishness is, I think, indicative of what my generation was like before 9/11.  We took our safety and security for granted, never having experienced real war or terror.  We were completely unaware of the cost of our nation's freedom.  Because it's one thing to read about war in a book.  It was something else entirely to watch those people jumping out of the towers to their deaths. 

I think the naivete of my generation went down with the towers that day. 

After watching the news--that footage--for days on end, I think we began to realize that freedom isn't free.  I think, for the first time in our lives, we started to think about a world outside our cushy little bubbles.  And we stood together as adults to bravely face those monsters who would dare threaten the nation we loved.  Our security.  We read and researched and cried and prayed, and we forgot, at least for a little while, about the unimportant things that had consumed our lives before that day.
And I am proud of how our country came together in the face of terror and tragedy on that day and throughout the weeks and months that followed.  We didn't point fingers at one another.  We held hands.  We put aside our differences and focused on addressing the problems facing our nation.   

I know that day and the war that has followed incite strong political conversations, and I'm certainly not attempting to get into any of that.  I just think it's important that we remember how strong our nation was when we stood together.  We will always be better when we work together, rather than against one another.  

And we should never ever forget the lives that were lost that day, or the days following as the brave rescue workers worked tirelessly to save the lives of those they had never met.  That selflessness, and the bravery of the soldiers who fought and continue to fight for our freedom, show why our country is a truly great nation.  That selflessness and bravery took a group of kids who might otherwise have remained oblivious to the price and significance of freedom and turned us into a generation of patriots.  

God bless these United States.

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