On September 11, 2001, right about the time as I write this today, a thirty-two year old man was holding his four year old close to his chest and staring at the TV in horror while unashamed tears ran down his face. The most violent act he had ever seen took place and he had no words to explain it to his daughter. Fear. Anger. Sadness. Uncertainty. He knew nothing else at the moment. All he could do was hold her tighter.
That was my story that morning. But at least I had a story to tell. Almost 3000 people, through no personal reasons of their own, lost their ability to tell their stories when a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks used commercial airliners to crash each plane into a prominent American building, causing mass casualties, and partial or complete destruction of the targeted buildings. Families destroyed forever just so someone could "deliver a message." It's still unknown how many people's life stories changed forever. Though I didn't know any of the victims, I'm still one of those affected people.
Today is a telling anniversary. Twenty years ago, that tectonic shock changed our nation forever. It's a little sobering to realize that much time has gone by. Since then, a new generation has been born and grown to adulthood. The grass has grown back in that Shanksville, Pennsylvania field, the Pentagon has been repaired, a proud new Manhattan building stands in the place of what was once a massive pile of wreckage, and each place bears memorials to those who were lost.
Many people will fly flags and wear patriotic clothing, politicians will take the opportunity to give moving speeches, and social media will be flooded with images, videos, and memes urging us to "never forget 9/11." But the real question I ask is while we recall it, are we really remembering it?
The only good thing that I can honestly say came out of the September 11th tragedy is that for a short time, ALL Americans came together. Our tears washed away the Red and Blue and we supported each other as we fought to make sense of the senseless. We took value in our country and rallied to come back. We had pride in being One Nation Under God once again. But like everything in this world, it wasn't to last.
Soon, the greasy trolls came out from where they cowered under their sleazy bridges to start pointing dirty fingers, their overwhelming craving for attention fueling their dark theories. The gullible, in their overpowering need to find "truth" believed the conjecture, conspiracy theories, and even outright lies. Soon, we were not longer America United, but America Back At Each Other's Throats.
It seems that we may have forgotten the lesson 9/11 taught us. While our governments aren't perfect, as people, we're a good lot. We want what everybody else wants peace. We live in a land that can support all our needs and then some if we use it wisely and its beauty is amongst the finest this world has to offer. If you are one of those people who posts about how horrible America is, please don't do it anymore. We are not all of a single voice and to judge us as such is unfair. Ironically, your Constitutional privileges allow you spit on the Constitution. In some countries, you would be arrested and imprisoned for speaking out.
As Americans, we have our differences, but that's not a bad thing. When nothing changes, nothing grows. We argue, but that's a good thing if handled correctly. Republicans and Democrats need to work with each other because it provides balance. We just need to remember that while little methods differ, we share our big goals. If we remember that and respect the other guy, we should be alright. Never forget, when you remove the Red and the Blue from Old Glory, all you have is the white flag of surrender.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that 9/11 was horrible. We can all agree with that. But when we came together, we went from a good people to a great people. If we never forget that incredible gift we were given in the midst of all the smoke, dust, wreckage, and tears, I believe we can do it again. In fact, I believe it's our responsibility to those who gave their lives to pursue that dream so that they aren't just victims, but symbols of hope and growth for a better American future.
- S Chavez