Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of 9/11, a tragedy of epic proportions brought on by hatred and willful ignorance of basic human dignity.
Like most adults today, I can remember where I was on 9/11/01. It was my first year of college and, since I only had MWF classes, I was home at my parents’ place that Tuesday morning, sitting on their living room couch doing my homework.
How exactly I found out, I don’t quite remember. What I do remember is sitting shocked and horrified and confused and physically cold despite the relative warmth around me.
We had been in Pennsylvania for over a decade at that point but we used to live in New Jersey, up in Hackensack and not too far away from NYC. My father even worked for a company that housed itself in the twin towers. So while I didn’t lose anybody I loved when those skyscrapers fell, it hit close enough.
After the initial shock passed, I turned on the news. There, in the safety of my parents’ basement, I watched those hijacked planes smash into their targets over and over and over again, saw them crumble in real time, and felt the same sense of horror that so many of my fellow Americans felt that day.
I also distinctly remember the news panning to a crowd of people in some Middle Eastern nation – I want to say Saudi Arabia – and seeing the throngs gathered out on the street, cheering the pain and destruction inflicted on my land. I remember the rage I felt, the red-hot anger at their elation, their enjoyment, of so much misery and chaos.
It is something I don’t think I can forget even if I try.
Times have and haven’t changed since that September morning. Ten years, two wars and a new president later, a new generation is growing up that can’t recollect the horrors of knowing their country is under brutal and unprovoked attack from people who despise them just because of who they are.
I don’t say any of this to fuel that hatred, neither theirs nor ours. Hate is a powerfully destructive emotion that rarely solves any problems and usually just creates more.
Instead, I bring it up because we need to remember. It’s essential that we don’t forget what happened and what has happened since.
Islamic extremists are still out there and still very intent on destroying us. If we want to truly prevent another 9/11-style attack, we cannot forget what happened or why it did.
If we forget or allow others to cloud the memory, we play right into our enemy’s hands.
God bless the USA!