Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9-11

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The following is an column I wrote for the Snow College newspaper (it was the third anniversary of 9-11, so this talks about it being three years ago). It's as pertinent today as it was then, perhaps even more, so I'm posting it here (in italics):

Here’s a little memory game for you to play: can you remember where you were on May 2, 1993? December 16, 1990? June 29, 2000?

How about September 11, 2001?

I can remember exactly where I was when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. I was going to my biology class and I was a little stressed because we were supposed to have a test that day. When I walked in, I could tell that the test would be canceled. The TV in the room had on CBS with live video on the first tower. We watched the planes hit the second tower and the Pentagon. Then we heard about the plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania. No one knew what to think or what to say.

I could go through every detail of my day that day, but I have a limited amount of space to make my point. One morning changed everyone in the entire world. Americans were brought face to face with the kind of fear that we had only seen in far countries on the evening news. Up until then, most Americans thought, “Well too bad for those people, but it really doesn’t affect me.” Up until then, “The Star Spangled Banner” was just a formality before ball games.

In the weeks that followed, America remembered why it is the greatest country in the world. We put aside all our racial, political, cultural differences and stood together behind the firefighters, police officers, military, and government officials who were making decisions to keep us from harm. We started standing and belting out the national anthem every chance we got. People stood in line to give blood since it was the only thing that they felt they could do to be useful.

This Saturday marks the third anniversary of the day that put “terrorism”, “Homeland Security”, and “Nine-Eleven” in everyone’s vocabulary. I’d like to say that we’re still as patriotic and firm as we were back then, but I can’t. We’re back to blaming each other and fighting amongst each other instead of fighting against the real enemies. We’ve started to forget.

Of course we want to get on with our lives. I can’t think of one American who doesn’t wish that September 11 hadn’t happened and that this Saturday could just be an average Saturday to sleep in or go home for the weekend. But the truth is that the attacks on America happened. Whether or not is has made America better is to be determined, but one thing is certain: we do need to go on with life, but never forget what happened. The calendar will continue to turn to September 11 each year and world events won’t let us forget how our lives have changed, but we should never let our hearts forget how shocked and confused and angry we felt at seeing those buildings go down. History has a funny way of repeating itself when we forget in our hearts what history was trying to tell us.

When the rockets’ red glare gave proof that the flag was still there back in the War of 1812, it was a symbol for Frances Scott Key that America would always prevail, no matter what adversity had in store. The people of this great nation have to stand firm to make sure this nation continues to stand firm.

Today's the ninth anniversary of the worst attack on America. It's kind of hard to "celebrate" something like this.  However, I want to take a moment out of my football-watching and weekending to pause and think of the people who died and people who risked their lives to save others (and the people who continue to risk their lives to keep our rights intact).  They deserve to be thought of even in the midst of our busy frantic lives.

Y'know, I like to fangirl and geek out over fictional heroes (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, 24, Heroes, Doctor Who, various anime, etc.), but the firemen, police officers, passengers on United 93, anyone who helped others get to safety on 9-11 and, of course, the troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are the real heroes.  I think the reason these kinds of fictional stories ring true now is because of the times we are living in.  We can relate to the stories of heroes and sacrifice because we are witnessing it every day.  Human beings naturally gravitate toward heroes in real life and fiction because they inspire greatness - they represent a chance that the world is still inherently good, despite all evidence to the contrary.  I like to look on the positive side of things and September 11 is no different.  If nothing else, September 11 gave us heroes to look up to.

(Hm, terrorists want us to despair and fear, but really, they set events in motion that give us reason to hope.  ^_^)

If you want an uplifting activity to commemorate this day, read all the verses of "The Star-Spangled Banner".  It's really interesting that most countries have national anthems that talk about how beautiful their country is and that it's their home and they'll be loyal to it - which we have patriotic songs that say the same thing.  But our national anthem is about how we sometimes go through hard times and challenges, but we - like the flag in the song - will come out of the smoke and the rubble.  Maybe we come out with a few scars and a huge black eye, but we're still standing and we're going to rebuild what we lost and stand up to those who want to do us harm.  I like that we're that unique.

And here are a few more icons to commemorate the day (these and the ones at the beginning are all by [info]kc_anathema.)

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September 11 - It may not be a "happy" holiday, but remember it. Just remember.

"Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
- "The Star-Spangled Banner" 4th verse

(This post was adapted from a post I wrote on 9-11 in 2007)

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