Today marks 10 years the worst attack on US soil, and the first since Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941. Today marks 10 years since 2,983 innocent lives were taken…and many more in the 10 years our military has been fighting in Afghanistan. Today marks 10 years since the last time the terrorists got ahead. Today is a day to honor those who were affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the heroes of Flight 93 who overtook the hijackers so more lives would not be lost. Today is a day for reflection.
10 years ago I was 17 years old, a senior in high school in California. I woke up to get ready for school to a radio announcement that a plane had hit one of the towers. They didn’t know if it was an accident, a suicide, or what caused it or why. I knew something wasn’t right. As I listened and worries grew that a 2nd plane was about to hit, I ran into the next room, turned on the news, and watched as the 2nd plane did hit. At that time it was clear this was not an accident.
I had to continue to get ready for school in shock, not sure if it was real, not understanding why it happened. It’s still clear, my dad calling up to me telling me horrible things are happening in the world. My mom on a business trip calling home. Thinking about my family in NY, specifically my Uncle who lives in Manhattan and my sister who had moved to NY a few months prior. Just the feeling of again, not understanding why, why would this happen? Who did this? In the days that followed, I remember my mom telling me this was a time to be with family. Today I hear others recall that immediately they knew this meant we were going to war and they prayed for peace. For this 17 year old, all of my peers called for revenge. We better get whoever was responsible for these actions. But most of all, I remember the unity and the American pride following September 11, 2001.
Today, I am 27 years old living in Washington, DC, working at the U.S. Capitol - the target of Flight 93. The wounds remain, the awe that someone could do this (and want to do this) to us is still there. It feels like yesterday, not 10 years. I know many, many people who were greatly affected by these acts of terror. The men and women who stood up and served (or still serve) in our military to fight terrorism and fight for our freedom. Evil still exists. We are still at threat. It is important that today, we honor those who have perished, and thank those who continue to fight so that you are safe and free.
Today, I wish for peace. Today, I wish for that unity we had 10 years ago. Today, I wish for the sense of American pride. Today, I wish for the return of that feeling of rallying behind the flag. Today, we stand divided. Today, that is what the enemy wants of us. But I know that we are strong. We are resilient. We will prevail. We will remain free. We are a great nation, made up of amazing people. And my faith remains.
Although I wish to only honor those who died, the first responders, our leaders who have kept us safe and our military, I have to acknowledge some of the disheartening things I have heard surrounding this day. I am disgusted by comments made by Paul Krugman claiming that there is a cloud of shame over this day because of the actions taken by our leaders. Your comments are shameful and dismiss the memory of every life lost. And anyone who gives credit to the conspiracy theories disgusts me as well. The people who work in public service and work for the government have such a pride for this country. How can you actually believe that the government would take so many innocent lives just for oil, or to obtain arms, or wage war??? These actions are shameful.
It is difficult to focus on much else today, especially being in DC. But, today marks a huge symbol of America - the start of the NFL season. Something that is American, that brings unity, and all Americans can get behind. Today we must continue with our lives and prove that terrorists can’t win and can’t knock us down. It might be something small, and watching football might not seem like a way to celebrate this day, but in my mind it is a small token of what we can do.
Today, I continue to wish for unity. For safety. For freedom. Today, I remember. And I will Never Forget.