“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
September 11th was one of the most tragic events in American history. I am not writing about the atrocities that occurred that day. Instead, I wanted to use this quote from the year this event happened, to inspire confidence and pride in our country. Some people forget that the United States, internationally, is still a beacon of liberty for those without freedom. I think that we, as Americans, need to be reminded of that sometimes.
10 years and 1 day ago, America was faced with its toughest crisis to date, because we were attacked by an enemy that didn’t show its face. America responded with poise and swiftness. That is what our country is all about. Think about the Revolutionary War: we were outnumbered and outgunned, yet the soon-to-be citizens of the United States of America never gave up, and because of that, we live in ‘the Home of the Free.’
Even when it seemed our country was doomed for failure when the Southern states seceded and the Civil War began, the winners of that fight found a way to unite our country once again. Yes, Americans killed other Americans due to differences in beliefs, but still we survived. Not only did the war end, but the U.S. made amazing steps towards equal rights and the end of slavery.
Pearl Harbor was the largest attack on the United States since its formation by a foreign entity. It devastated the families of those soldiers and civilians who lost their lives. But it also compelled the United States government to take action and join a war that saw the ‘good guys’ quickly losing ground against a powerful and ruthless enemy. Pearl Harbor was a tragedy, but it was just what the U.S. needed to get its citizens to support the efforts of the Allies during WWII.
Finally, there was 9/11. An act of terrorism not provoked by direct declaration of war, but an attack in effort to dismantle a country that stands as a symbol of freedom for the entire world. Those who conducted the attack had opposing ideals of most living in America, and believed most of us to be ‘infidels.’ Since there were no negotiations to be made and no diplomacy to be sought, the United States acted, and it acted viciously. The primary purpose of America’s actions are debatable (and I am NOT here to discuss them), what is more important is that the campaign was one ‘against terror.’ That is what matters.
Please, remember 9/11 for what it was: a tragedy. Pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the attacks, and in the aftermath at Ground Zero. Don’t just remember that, however. Remember that the United States, just as it has every time it’s been faced with a conflict where America’s citizens are faced with danger, responded. America’s people were united, once again, to help those who were suffering and dying. People made huge sacrifices to aid those around them and the country as a whole, and they still are making sacrifices overseas and in our streets.
Why did I write this on September 12th? Because 10 years ago that’s the day America proved it can keep going. And today, we will keep going. We will never forget, 9/11/01. Thank you to all those who have served and those who protect us now. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those out there fighting. We will always Remember.