Do you remember where you were eight years ago when the worst terrorist attack against the United States of America took place on our soil?
I, as most Americans and others from around the globe, sure do.
I was a sophomore at Canton-Galva High School. I clearly remember walking into my math class to see my teacher, Mrs. Roberta Hamilton, sobbing as images from the attack flickered on the television screen.
As I stood in the room trying to assess what was happening, I saw footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center Twin Towers.
Then I saw people jumping to their deaths from windows of the towers in an attempt to escape the flames. A few were still clutching their briefcases.
I was speechless.
My fellow students and I just sat down and were relatively silent as we continued to watch the coverage of the attack. Eventually Mrs. Hamilton composed herself enough to explain why she was so upset.
She is a native of New York.
Silence fell over the class for the rest of the period.
As I set in my desk I kept thinking, “This is going to get ugly. Someone is going to pay.”
In the hallway, the normal, cacophonous chatter was ratcheted down considerably as word spread of what had happened.
I remember talking to my friend Justin Bacon, and he and I agreed that some sort of retaliation was imminent.
Neither of us knew anyone who was a victim of the attacks, but we both were kind of angry I think. I would surmise patriotism was flaring in us just as it was in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans.
I drove home from school that day after football practice and talked with my father and one of his friends.
They couldn’t believe what had happened, but they too felt revenge would be sought with brutal force.
It was an intense time in our history, and the ensuing war was necessary, even if it was a bit misguided and mishandled.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, brought the country together and ignited a passion for the country in nearly all its citizens.
After eight years, though, does that patriotic flame still burn hot? Is our country still as united as it was less than a decade ago?
Some might say yes, but I’m not so sure.
Our country is become divided over making sure everyone has access to the health care they need, and the economic recession, which could arguably be called a modern-day depression, is putting a strain on relationships of every variety.
It is a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes only the most horrific occurrences can unite people.
As time marches on, the memories aren’t disappearing, though.
Those who were killed will be forever remembered; however, the need to cling to one another in order to cope with the tragedy is fading.
Time heals pain but doesn’t erase the wound.
Is this good or bad for our country? I think it is both.
It is good that we don’t have to have a crutch to lean on for eternity. The people of our country are resilient and overcome whatever obstacle is thrown down in front of them.
Of course, it would also be nice if the country was as united as it was in the wake of the attacks all the time, but the United States is such a diverse country, one can’t always expect things to play out seamlessly.
So, really, to asses if the patriotism is still as strong as with was eight years ago, one can’t look at the country as a whole. The individual has to be considered first, and the individual each of knows best is ourselves.
Are you still as patriotic as you were then?
For me, I can honestly say I am not, but I am still more patriotic than I was prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
I love my country. I love my home state of Kansas, and I love where I grew up, which is in rural America – the best place in the world.
But today, I turn up the volume on my patriotism just a bit in honor and remembrance of what happened, just as everyone should.
The way I do better at remembering is unleashing the journalism nerd in me.
If you care to walk down that path with me, here are few links that I used today:
— Images of the Twin Towers Before Sept. 11 (This is another NY Times piece via one of its blogs. The images are pretty powerful because they depict how normal everything was before and how much it changed after the attacks.)
Of course, if you don’t use these links or find them helpful, that’s more than OK. Everyone needs to remember the day in their own way.
“Through the twisted steel of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the scarred walls of the Pentagon, and the smoky wreckage in a field in southwest Pennsylvania, the patriotism and resiliency of the American people shone brightly on September 11, 2001. We stood as one people, united in our common humanity and shared sorrow. We grieved for those who perished and remembered what brought us together as Americans.
Today, we honor the lives we lost 8 years ago. On a bright September day, innocent men, women, and children boarded planes and set off for work as they had so many times before. Unthinkable acts of terrorism brought tragedy, destruction, pain, and loss for people across our Nation and the world.
As we pay tribute to loved ones, friends, fellow citizens, and all who died, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideas and ideals that united Americans in the aftermath of the attacks. We must apprehend all those who perpetrated these heinous crimes, seek justice for those who were killed, and defend against all threats to our national security. We must also recommit ourselves to our founding principles. September 11 reminds us that our fate as individuals is tied to that of our Nation. Our democracy is strengthened when we uphold the freedoms upon which our Nation was built: equality, justice, liberty, and democracy. These values exemplify the patriotism and sacrifice we commemorate today.
In that same spirit of patriotism, I call upon all Americans to join in service and honor the lives we lost, the heroes who responded in our hour of need, and the brave men and women in uniform who continue to protect our country at home and abroad. In April, I was proud to sign the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which recognizes September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Originated by the family members of those who lost loved ones on 9/11, the National Day of Service and Remembrance is an opportunity to salute the heroes of 9/11, recapture the spirit of unity and compassion that inspired our Nation following the attacks, and rededicate ourselves to sustained service to our communities.
Throughout the summer, people of all ages and backgrounds came together to lend a helping hand in their communities through United We Serve. As this summer of service draws to an end, we renew the call to engage in meaningful service activities and stay engaged with those projects throughout the year. Working together, we can usher in a new era in which volunteering and service is a way of life for all Americans. Deriving strength from tragedy, we can write the next great chapter in our Nation’s history and ensure that future generations continue to enjoy the promise of America.
By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as Patriot Day, and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2009, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with other ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
Does this mean one day we will get Sept. 11 off as a national holiday. I would like to think maybe, but even if we don’t, that doesn’t mean the day shouldn’t be remembered and those who were killed honored.
Whether you do it as a journalism nerd like me or find your away, just don’t forget and try to stoke your own patriotism flame now and again because we truly do live in the best country in the world.