“This week, we mark the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It’s a time to remember the nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children we lost, and the families they left behind. It’s a chance to honor the courage of the first responders who risked their lives – on that day, and every day since. And it’s an opportunity to give thanks for our men and women in uniform who have served and sacrificed, sometimes far from home, to keep our country safe.” – President Barack Obama, September 11, 2012
It is hard to believe that it has been 11 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks. I remember it like it was yesterday, where I was and what I was doing on the fateful morning. September 11, 2001, I was a sophomore at Dillard High school; I was in my computer applications class when we received news of the attack. My teacher turned the television on and we watched as the buildings bellowed with smoke. I remember saying, “Those sons of bitches did it”. I was not certain who was responsible for the attack, but I was well aware of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and the recent attack on the U.S.S. Cole. I watched the coverage throughout the day at Dillard High school and watched the first tower collapse before the televisions were ordered off and panic set in. Parents begin pulling their children from school as uncertainty and fear draped the nation.
Once I finally made it home from school I seen that the Twin Towers weren’t the only buildings attacked on September 11, 2001. The Pentagon was also hit and flight 93 which many believe was headed for the U.S. Capitol was brought down in Pennsylvania by its heroic passengers before it could hit its target. A coordinated anthrax attack was also underway.
The 9/11 attack led us into two wars, one in Afghanistan and later Iraq. The environment of fear that covered America led to lawmakers, in Washington, enacting laws that stripped Americans of their freedom (warrantless wiretaps, indefinite suspension, etc.) and would eventually lead to 6,660 casualties of service men and women.
The lessons of 9/11 should never be forgotten. The first lesson I learned was that we are all in this together, as Americans. It does not matter if you are black, white, brown, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, rich or poor, we are Americans! As Americans we hold the same values and believe in the same freedoms, and hold the universal belief that we are all awarded inalienable rights including peace and security. In America, we rise and fall together; we leave no one behind and understand that we are our brothers and sisters keepers.
The second lesson I learned after 9/11 was to never let fear dictate our lives. Fear makes people do irrational and harmful things. Americans, on 9/11, because of fear was willing to give up individual liberties and let law makers exploit our fears and lead us into war. We must never again let fear threaten the very democracy we hold so dearly.
In generations pass our elders would say they would never forget where they were during the bombing of Pearl Harbor or assassination of John F. Kennedy, well it is safe to say that none of us will forget where we were on September 11, 2001. Our prayers continue to go out to all of those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Our thanks and gratitude is extended to those first responders who risked their own lives to save others, and our appreciation to the 6,660 service men and women who lost their life defending our freedom. September 11, 2001, the day America lost its innocence, a day we will never forget!